Top stories 2018: Fired West Point teacher considering his options

aluck@tidewaterreview.com

Former West Point High School French teacher Peter Vlaming, who was fired for insubordination for refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronoun, is considering his legal options.

West Point Public School Board voted unanimously Dec. 6 to support division Superintendent Laura Abel’s recommendation to terminate Vlaming’s employment, citing discrimination, harassment and insubordination.

Vlaming refused to comply with multiple administrators’ requests to address the student by his preferred pronoun, according to school officials at the public hearing.

He had been on administrative leave since Oct. 31 for refusing to use the ninth-grade student’s preferred male pronoun, citing his own religious beliefs.

Vlaming’s attorney Shawn Voyles argued the division’s gender identity policy had no guidelines or pronoun-specific section, and that discrimination violations require action.

He shared his position with the student’s parents and said he would use the student’s new name and avoid offensive pronouns, according to Voyles. But the student’s parents did not want their child to remain in Vlaming’s class after an incident where the student was wearing virtual reality goggles. Vlaming shouted at someone to stop the student from running into the wall and used the student’s former identity pronoun, according to the school division’s attorney Stacy Haney.

After Vlaming was put on leave, Abel investigated the situation and made a request for him to use the student’s male pronoun and to inform the student and parents. Vlaming said he would not comply with the request and Abel recommended termination.

The student’s identity was not revealed during the hearing. West Point high and middle school students participated in a walkout Dec. 7 to protest the School Board’s decision to terminate Vlaming.

In a interview on Dec. 20, Vlaming said he and Voyles are still weighing his legal options against what they consider the School Board’s unconstitutional ruling.

Review archives were used in this story.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, aluck@tidewaterreview.com or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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