Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Heritage Foundation and Pronoun Contests

Peter Vlaming
Former teacher Peter Vlaming claims that he is entitled to treat transgender students disrespectfully in violation of school policy.
via The Morning Bulletin
Heritage Foundation is fiercely transphobic. After all, Heritage is the employer of trans-obsessed Defender of the Faith Ryan T. Anderson. A recent post at Heritage Foundation's blog is titled: Fired for Accidentally Calling a Transgender Student ‘She,’ Teacher Takes Case to Court.

The author of that piece, Rachel del Guidice, is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. Somehow the Franciscan Friars failed to stress the importance of accuracy; at least with respect to the title of her polemic.

The case involves a teacher by the name of Peter Vlaming. Vlaming filed suit against the West Point School Board (West Point, VA) in state court last September.

Vlaming claims that he was wrongfully terminated; asserting that he has First Amendment rights involving compelled speech and Freedom of Religion™ which permit him to deadname transgender students and to use pronouns based upon their natal sex in defiance of employment policies.

The school board, starting last October, has been trying to move this case to federal court. Attorneys for the school board claim that there is a Title IX question regarding the student's right to be free of discrimination.

They also want to assert Garcetti v. Ceballos as precedent. In that case the Supreme Court ruled that government employees do not enjoy First Amendment protections for speech made in performance of their duties. (State courts are not bound by federal precedents.)

Alliance Defending Freedom (who else?) has been trying to get the matter remanded to Commonwealth of Virginia courts for ten months.

Getting back to Ms. del Guidice, she would have people believe that a slip of the tongue cost Vlaming his job. That is incorrect. According to court records filed by the school board:
The Plaintiff, a former teacher at West Point High School, was fired by the School Board because he repeatedly refused to comply with the nondiscrimination policies adopted by the School Board…
[…]
Specifically, the Plaintiff was terminated because he refused to use male pronouns to refer to a transgender male student, despite repeated requests from the student and his parent and repeated directives, verbal and written, by his superiors. Additionally, the Plaintiff continued to use female pronouns to refer to the student – both in the student’s presence and in the presence of other students who reported the behavior to the student.
Note in the above that the kid's parent tried to reason with Vlaming. Vlaming was afforded a hearing before the school board in December, 2018. Vlaming told the board that, if he were permitted to return to his teaching position, then he would still not use correct pronouns.
What is it that compels people to be such boors when it comes to gender-correct pronouns? Even if someone is possessed of the religious belief that transgender people don't really exist, where is the religious conflict if one is adhering to employer policy?
These self-absorbed people take themselves much too seriously. I loathe slippery slope arguments but where does this end? Vlaming might also believe that a student's same-sex parents are not really married. Might he alter his language to conform to that religious dogma?

My late maternal grandmother (a rather unpleasant Russian woman) kept kosher. Just imagine the havoc that she could wreak over a public school lunchroom. If people are that affected by religious fanaticism then, perhaps, public school is not the right employer for them.
“I explained to my principal that I couldn’t in good conscience pronounce masculine pronouns to refer to a girl,” Vlaming told [del Guidice]. “He gave me an official written reprimand that said it was the first step in a process that would lead to my termination.”
Yeah. That's called progressive discipline. Stop being such a narcissist and do your damned job.
Wyatt Pedersen, at the time a student of Vlaming’s, said his reaction to his teacher’s firing was “a combination of like shock and kind of disgust.” Pedersen helped organize a student walkout in protest.
The kid's adolescent reaction is irrelevant. He has not considered the fact that people do violence to trans youth when they intentionally misgender them.
Paul Nichols, a friend of Vlaming’s who is superintendent of nearby Mecklenburg County Public Schools, told The Daily Signal that the teacher’s situation is a direct reflection of what is happening in society.

“Not only did he lose his job, but I think the whole thing has put other people in a position where they’re scared that they will lose their job if they don’t toe the line of current popular culture, progressive culture,” Nichols said.
I note that Mr. Nichols' schools have an employment nondiscrimination policy that includes gender identity. That is something that has been affirmed by the Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County. What would Nichols do if a student insisted on calling a transgender female teacher “sir?”

I posed that question to Nichols via email. I do not expect to receive a reply.

What is happening is that changes in how clinicians treat gender dysphoria allow sufferers to transition at an earlier age. It has absolutely nothing to do with popular or progressive culture. Asking people to be decent to children is not requiring them to “to the line” of some abstract doctrine.

Furthermore, as Mr. Nichols surely knows, employees do not get to decide which policies they will follow and which policies they will disregard. I would also expect a school superintendent to have more empathy than Nichols displays.

According to Ms. del Guidice, Peter Vlaming claims:
I understood her point of view and respected the fact that she could choose to think what she wants to think. And it’s not my place as a teacher to pronounce any position I might have on the subject, but I couldn’t in good conscience designate her via third person pronouns as a boy.
“Think what she wants to think?” Does this idiot seriously believe that he has made some sort of choice? Vlaming's idea of what constitutes “good conscience” is clearly warped, presumably by religious doctrine which he inflicts on others.

Vlaming should not use the word “respected” because he has demonstrated no respect whatsoever.

The student has not made a choice to be gender incongruent. His transition is neither whimsical nor trivial. Yet, Peter Vlaming has made a conscious choice to be disrespectful towards a student because of a medical condition. On what part of the galaxy does that make any sense?
Furthermore, what harm is visited upon this teacher if he uses gender-appropriate forms of address?
He told the student that adopting the new identity was “a big transition,” Vlaming recalled.

“So extend me a little bit of grace,” Vlaming said he told the student.
“Grace” is defined as courteous goodwill. What Vlaming told this student is essentially that he (the student) should extend the courtesy to be tolerant of Vlaming's discourtesy. Who is the adult in that transaction?
Oh the tragedy
“I was told that not only would I proactively use male pronouns for the student in her presence, but that I would use male pronouns to refer to her no matter who was present, even if it was just another colleague behind closed doors or in a break room,” Vlaming said.
We are informed that Peter Vlaming is a pious Anglican. You would think, from the above, that he is being coerced into altering his religious beliefs. He is free to believe anything that he wants. He is expected to treat students respectfully which, in doing so, has no effect on his religious beliefs.

I must ask again. How does this teacher comport himself on parents' day when a student's parents happen to be a gay couple? Would he dare be disrespectful to adults?
Caleb Dalton, a counsel with the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom who represents Vlaming, said the teacher’s case is about whether the government can force someone to speak a message that goes against their conscience.

“His case, at its core, is really about the right of free speech, the right of any teacher not to be compelled to violate their convictions in order to keep their job,” Dalton said.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an anti-LGBTQ hate group. According to federal law, government employees do not have First Amendment protections in performance of their duties. If this case is decided in state court, the same might apply. ADF being ADF, any adverse ruling will be appealed. Litigation could go on for years.

The student seeks to be a pseudonymous intervener in this case as John Doe. He is represented by Asaf Orr who is with the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco. NCLR has really stood up for John and for other kids just like him in numerous suits.

Mr. Orr is joined by local counsel, Colleen Marea Quinn, and several prominent out-of-state lawyers.

On July 21, 2020, John Doe's lawyers filed a motion for leave to file a “supplemental authority.” The lawyers are asking the Court to take notice of the June 10 Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County.
The Supplemental Authority is pertinent to John’s argument that he should be permitted to proceed in this action under the pseudonym “John” because the Supreme Court utilized the preferred pronouns of a transgender petitioner, the same relief John requests here.
ADF opposes the motion, insisting that there is no federal question. Judge John A. Gibney Jr. — an Obama appointee — is expected to rule on this case in the near future.

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