WTVR, a Richmond television station, reported Peter Vlaming, a French teacher at West Point High School, refused to identify a student who had recently transitioned as “he” and “him” in October while he was in his classroom. The West Point Public School Board on Dec. 6 voted unanimously to fire Vlaming after a 5-hour hearing.
WTVR reported West Point Public Schools Superintendent Laura Abel recommended Vlaming’s termination after he refused to refer to the student by male pronouns, despite numerous requests that he do so. Vlaming said his Christian faith influenced the way he treated the student.
“We are here today because a specific world view is being imposed upon me,” Vlaming told the school board before it fired him.
James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, in an email to supporters defended the board’s decision to fire Vlaming.
“Transgender students, like all students, deserve the opportunity to do well in school and that means classrooms should be spaces where students feel safe, supported, and respected,” said Parrish. “But, transgender students are too often targeted for bullying, harassment, or mistreatment. Families expect teachers to support their children, not target them as different.”
The high school at which Vlaming taught is roughly 40 miles east of Richmond.
Gavin Grimm, a student at Gloucester County High School, which is about half an hour southeast of West Point High School, in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the Gloucester County School District’s policy prohibiting students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t correspond with their “biological gender.”
Grimm and lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union who represented him said the policy violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 declined to hear Grimm’s case, but a federal judge in Norfolk later upheld the Title IX claims.