December 06, 2018
Can three letters cost you your job? They can if they're "s-h-e." That's the unbelievable dilemma playing out in a Richmond-area school. When French teacher Peter Vlaming refused to use a male pronoun for a female student, administrators gave him a choice: lie or lose your job.
Playing pretend used to be for kids. Now, it's a condition of employment! For Vlaming, whose story shows just how far off the rails society is, started getting national attention this week ahead of his hearing. Like a lot of professionals, Vlaming knew the debate over these transgender issues was fierce. What he didn't know is that one day it could decide his career.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happening to the popular teacher, who was put on administrative leave in Virginia after a biological girl asked him to use male pronouns when he addressed her. Vlaming was willing to compromise, telling West Point High School officials that he would use the student's preferred name but couldn't -- in good conscience -- refer to her as "he." "I was informed that any further instances of using female pronouns would be grounds for termination."
Today, Vlaming had the chance to present his case to a school he's served for seven years. In a wise move, he requested a public hearing so that there would be some transparency about the district's agenda and any personnel decisions. So far, the support for Vlaming has been overwhelming. Students, parents, and local community leaders all launched a petition called, "Don't terminate Mr. Vlaming," which has more than 1,100 signatures. Other students are taking a more proactive approach, hanging signs all over the school that say things like "#Justice for Vlaming," "Mr. Vlaming is innocent," and "Facts don't care about your feelings."
One junior, Forrest Rohde, is in disbelief. "I see this stuff on the news far away from here, but when it hits close to home and someone's free speech is being violated, I have to step in and say something about it." Like the rest of the student body, Rohde is getting quite an education in LGBT activism. "He's a really nice guy... [and] he really does care about his students. The thing he will not do is change his ways of thoughts and believing in things just to conform to someone else's ideologies."
But in this case, it's more than Vlaming's beliefs. It's science. It's human history and tradition since the dawn of time. And ignoring that isn't just harmful -- it's child abuse. That's why the American College of Pediatricians, the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the Catholic Medical Association, representing over 30,000 health professionals across the nation, sent a letter to the Trump administration, applauding it for upholding the scientific definition of sex in federal law and policy. Together with 32 legal organizations, policy groups (including FRC), and independent physicians, therapists, academics, and bioethicists, they defend the idea that the difference between the sexes is "real and consequential."
Thirty years ago, no one thought we'd be debating this. Now, we've actually gotten to the point where renouncing reality is a condition of teaching children! Imagine what kind of message that sends the next generation. "Your truth is all that matters." Is that what we should start telling everyone in positions of public trust? Think of all the judges, jurists, witnesses, and elected officials who take oaths of honesty. If there's no such thing as the truth, why bother? In fact, let's have them swear to lie. That's essentially what West Point High School is doing here. What's next? Sending teachers away to government camps like China to have them "reprogrammed?"
This is education -- not make-believe. It's time we stopped indulging these fantasies and started teaching children the truth. That is, if enough teachers still have their jobs to try!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.