(Official Washington Examiner editorial, Dec. 18) Even with the American Civil Liberties Union fighting against civil rights, the cause of freedom of conscience won a big victory this week against a Virginia school board’s attempt at mandatory wokeness. Lady Justice (she/her) surely is smiling.

Even 20 years ago, the situation at issue in Vlaming v. West Point School Board would have seemed like a dystopian alternative reality. Peter Vlaming was a high school French teacher with six years of experience and consistently positive evaluations. The school board fired him, however, when he refused to refer to a biological female by the male pronouns she preferred, even though Vlaming readily referred to her by her self-chosen, male-sounding name and did not use pronouns at all.

Even though Vlaming explained that his religious beliefs precluded him from calling a biological girl a boy, the board would not relent. It said that Vlaming was not only forbidden to use pronouns that contradicted the student’s chosen “identity” but that he had no right to avoid pronouns altogether. Instead, it said, he was required to use pronouns that proactively affirmed the student’s anatomically incorrect gender predilection.

Therefore, even though he was an excellent teacher, the school board fired him. And when he filed suit saying that his free speech and free exercise of religion rights were violated, the ACLU filed a brief against him. Never mind the teacher’s First Amendment rights, said the supposed guardian group of the First Amendment. The student’s right to avoid “discrimination,” said the left-wing group, had been somehow violated by the teacher’s refusal to use masculine pronouns.

By that logic, if a teacher otherwise treated one student like all the others (in terms of class participation, grades, or whatever) but refused to comply when that student wanted to be publicly referred to as a leopard, well, would the ACLU still allege discrimination?…. [The full editorial is at this link.]


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