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Hearing Tuesday at VA Supreme Court in case of high school teacher fired over pronoun policy

ADF attorneys representing Peter Vlaming available to media following oral argument

Monday, Feb 14, 2022

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral argument in Vlaming v. West Point School Board

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 15, immediately following hearing, which begins at 2 p.m. EST

WHERE: Virginia Supreme Court hearing is telephonic; to schedule a media interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Ellie Wittman at (202) 503-7984

RICHMOND, Va. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a high school teacher fired for avoiding the use of personal pronouns to refer to one of his students will be available for media interviews following oral argument at the Virginia Supreme Court Tuesday in the teacher’s case, Vlaming v. West Point School Board.

The West Point School Board fired Peter Vlaming, who taught French in the district for seven years, after he stated he couldn’t in good conscience comply with the superintendent’s order to refer to one of his students using pronouns that were inconsistent with the student’s biological sex. Vlaming consistently used the student’s preferred name instead of the student’s given name, and although he attempted to avoid the use of any pronouns in an effort to accommodate the student, he was nonetheless directed to cease avoiding the use of pronouns to refer to the student, even when the student wasn’t present.

“Peter wasn’t fired for something he said; he was fired for something he couldn’t say,” said ADF Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel, who will argue before the court on Vlaming’s behalf. “As a teacher, Peter was passionate about the subject he taught, he was well-liked by his students, and he did his best to accommodate their needs and requests. But Peter couldn’t in good conscience speak messages that he doesn’t believe to be true. And that was enough to get him fired by a school board that demanded absolute conformity to the school’s ideological beliefs. That firing violated Peter’s rights under the Virginia Constitution and Virginia law.”

“Peter went above and beyond to treat this student with respect, including using the student’s preferred name and avoiding any pronoun usage in the student’s presence,” explained ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Peter’s case isn’t about anything he ever said. It is about a school demanding total conformity in utter disregard of Peter’s efforts and his legally protected freedoms.”

Shawn Voyles, one of more than 3,500 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as co-counsel in the case on Vlaming’s behalf.

  • Pronunciation guide: Vlaming (VLAMM’-ing), Schandevel (SHAN’-da-vel), Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-ur)

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to ensuring freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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