73,970 distinct pronouns to remember, minimum. I have enough trouble learning the actual names of my students every year. And of course, I’m sure more genders are being discovered every day, so I’ll have to keep a calculator handy…
But his article, gentle readers, is about adult choices. What does a school district value most? The whims of a confused child, or the career of a distinguished, effective, and respected teacher? You know where this is going, don’t you?
I’ve written about one of the newer social justice bugaboos—pronouns–several times. In June of 2018, I wrote Respecting Pronouns, which was the tale of an Indiana High School teacher who lost his job for the horrible crime of refusing to call confused children by whatever their preferred pronoun might be on a given day. I followed this in September of 2018 with Grand Valley University: Feeling Unsafe. Among the outrages in that article was the tale of a professor who was not amused by the misuse and burgeoning number of pronouns and as a result, was reported to the “Inclusion and Equity Division.” One can only imagine the ensuing horrors.
The lunacy continues, as The Daily Mail reports:
A Virginia teacher who refused to use a transgender student’s new pronouns was fired on Thursday for insubordination.
The West Point School Board voted unanimously to dismiss Peter Vlaming after a four-hour hearing, after he told his superiors at West Point High School that his Christian faith prevented him from using male pronouns for a student who had informed the school of his transition during the summer.
The 47-year-old French teacher had offered to use the boy’s name and to avoid feminine pronouns, but his attorney Shawn Voyles said the school was unwilling to accept the compromise.
This, which is not the only telling fact, demonstrates the intellectual and moral morass that is the social justice case. There is nothing wrong with calling a student by their legal name. In fact, most professional school districts do just that by policy as a means of avoiding social justice insanity, which changes virtually daily. One actually cannot keep up. Pronouns are a convenience, not a necessity, and the most polite way to refer to anyone is by their actual, legal name. Students don’t think well of teachers that make no effort to learn their names, and rightly so.
In this instance, the school said Vlaming’s plan would discriminate against the boy, and Vlaming said the school’s decision discriminated against his religious beliefs. [skip]
Vlaming had taught the night [sic] grade student the year before, prior to his transition.
When the student returned this year after his transition, Vlaming refused to refer to the student using masculine pronouns, which the student said made him feel uncomfortable and singled out.
One suspects that, as is the norm in such cases, there is little done or undone that will not make the student feel “uncomfortable and singled out.” In such cases, feelings, not reality, are virtually always the deciding factor. “Transitioning” seems destined to provoke such feelings. Vlaming is merely collateral damage.
That discrimination then leads to creating a hostile learning environment. And the student had expressed that. The parent had expressed that,’ West Point schools Superintendent Laura Abel told Richmond.com. ‘They felt disrespected.’
The school’s nondiscrimination policies were updated one year ago, to now include protections for gender identity.
One may not, of course, allow law or policy to get in the way of a preferred social justice outcome, which always includes the punishment of those that do not wholeheartedly support it, whatever it might be this week.
Mera Babineaux, a supporter of the student, a West Point resident and founder of the Virginia Anti-Bullying and Discrimination Action Network, wrote in a letter to the board:
‘No matter what sense of self or identity a child may have, public schools must remain a bastion of secular education, where children can learn without fear of retribution for who they are, where they worship, who they love, or how they present themselves.
How, one wonders, is calling a child by their legal name, non-secular? How does that instill “fear of retribution? How is worship or love involved? The child may “present” him/her/its self any way xe/zir/etc. chooses, but they still have a legal name. That they might choose to change it absent process of law, does not impose on others an obligation to do and say whatever they want when they want. This is particularly Important in schools, where children’s whims are fleeting. I suspect part of Vlaming’s problem is he actually made sense:
Speaking on his own behalf, Vlaming asked the board to reconsider the ‘absurdity’ of equating pronoun usage with what he characterized as having no accusation of overtly malicious behavior to discrimination.
‘My religious faith dictates that I am to love and respect everyone, whether I agree with them or not. Because we are all made in God’s image,’ Vlaming said at the hearing, while reading from a prepared opening statement.
‘I am also aware of, and agree, with speech limits that are placed on public school teachers, concerning matters of religious faith. I represent the state in my role as a public school teacher and therefore speak with a certain authority. That authority is not to be used to promote any one specific worldview, and I don’t. However, we are here today because a specific worldview is being imposed upon me,’ he said.
In a separate comment, Vlaming added, ‘I am being punished for what I haven’t said.’
He added that his job was put in peril for him having views held by ‘most of the world for most of human history.’
‘That is not tolerance. That is coercion,’ Vlamin [sic] said, while calling his suggested course of action a display of ‘mutual tolerance.
Well, yes. The School District responded with predictable, textbook educationalese:
‘The School Board has policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. As detailed during the course of the public hearing, Mr. Vlaming was recommended for termination due to his insubordination and repeated refusal to comply with directives made to him by multiple WPPS administrators,’ Abel said.
Vlaming is considering a legal appeal. As always, we do not know all the facts, and do not have the documents that might provide a more complete understanding. However, it seems he has an excellent First Amendment case. In Respecting Pronouns, I wrote:
In all of my years in law enforcement and education, I’ve run across many kids confused about their identities in one way or another, including ‘trans’ kids. It has been my experience that gender confusion was only one of the many problems from which those kids suffered, and not always the most significant problem. Few of those kids lived happy lives, and a number I believe to be higher than the norm ended in suicide. Never did I consider indulging their mercurial urges to be a rational or helpful means of helping them deal with reality or of restoring them to mental health.
This is not about equal rights. There is no right to pretend to be other than one’s actual gender. There is no right to pretend there is no such thing as gender, or there are more than two genders–or no gender.
Another unmistakable and ugly facet of this progressive gender crusade is a brutal and ugly hatred of Christianity and of the values and morality of normal Americans. How progressives hate people of faith, and particularly those that actually live their faiths. There can be no tolerance for Christians.
Hopefully, Vlaming will pursue a lawsuit. Hopefully, he will win and the school district and the parents of the child involved will be forced to compensate him handsomely. That is the only thing, other than the threat of incarceration, that will catch the attention of such people, and which might force policy changes. Even if he prevails, Vlaming’s career in that school district is over. Such people do not admit error, and they do not forgive or forget. Should Vlaming be reinstated, he would face a daily struggle for professional survival merely for behaving as a responsible adult. His school district made a choice, one that sets a dangerous precedent: the ephemeral whims of disturbed children matter far more than the lives of dedicated teachers.
Regardless of the outcome of a potential lawsuit is the stark realization our society has fallen so far, so fast. Any one of us could, without warning, become the object of social justice wrath, not only for what we might do, but for what we have not done. In such a bizarro world, the only choice is to fight, to use the law and public opinion to make our tormentors more uncomfortable than they can make us, to make them know there is a price for their insanity. Only then might America have a chance.