VA Supreme Court Upholds Teacher’s Right to Free Speech and Religious Freedom

By Danielle Dolin

by Danielle Dolin

In a significant triumph for free speech and religious freedom, the Virginia Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking ruling on Thursday, reinstating a lawsuit that alleges the West Point School Board violated the rights of a high school teacher protected by Virginia law. The teacher, Peter Vlaming, faced termination for conscientiously objecting to using personal pronouns inconsistent with a student’s sex.

Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, Vlaming, a French teacher with nearly seven years of service in the district, found himself dismissed after expressing his inability, in good conscience, to comply with the superintendent’s directive to use pronouns conflicting with the student’s sex. Despite Vlaming’s attempts to accommodate the student by using their preferred name and avoiding pronouns altogether, school officials insisted he use pronouns inconsistent with the student’s gender, even when the student was not present.

ADF Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel, who presented Vlaming’s case before the court, emphasized, “Peter wasn’t fired for something he said; he was fired for something he couldn’t say.” The Virginia Supreme Court acknowledged that Vlaming’s case against the school board for violating his rights under the Virginia Constitution and state law should proceed, recognizing the importance of protecting diversity of thought, speech, religion, and opinion.

The court’s opinion in Vlaming v. West Point School Board underscored the constitutional commitment to safeguard citizens’ rights to diverse perspectives. The ruling highlighted, “Absent a truly compelling reason for doing so, no government committed to these principles can lawfully coerce its citizens into pledging verbal allegiance to ideological views that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

ADF Attorney Shawn Voyles, part of the extensive ADF Attorney Network, is serving as co-counsel alongside Schandevel on behalf of Vlaming. The court’s decision rightly vindicates Vlaming’s right to adhere to his convictions, asserting that the West Point School Board violated constitutional principles by attempting to enforce ideological viewpoints on gender identity.

Danielle Dolin is a prolific writer and serves as the Managing Editor at the Christian News Journal. A dedicated mother of four daughters, she calls Southern Arizona home. Danielle’s passion for journalism extends beyond her professional role; she imparts her knowledge to homeschool students as a dedicated teacher. In her cherished moments of respite, you can find her engrossed in the pages of books or engaged in the world of video games. Her multifaceted life is a testament to her commitment to family, education, and her unwavering love for storytelling.

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