The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed its opening brief in the Virginia Supreme Court in the case of Peter Vlaming, a teacher who was fired after he declined to use a student’s preferred pronouns. Seven other organizations filed briefs supporting Vlaming on Tuesday, including the Office of the Attorney General on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Under our Constitution, Virginians have an absolute right not to be forced to publicly disavow their sincerely held religious beliefs—and that applies equally to public-school teachers. Even on pure speech grounds, the government cannot force its employees to falsely express their agreement with controversial messages they don’t believe without identifying a compelling state interest that cannot be achieved through significantly less restrictive means,” the ADF brief states.
Vlaming was fired at the end of 2018 for charges of harassing the student and insubordination. In a lawsuit, Vlaming sought to be reinstated, but the King William Circuit Court dismissed the case. In March, the Virginia Supreme Court agreed to hear Vlaming’s appeal.
In his brief, Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office argues that Virginia’s constitution provides more extensive protection of religious liberty than the U.S. Constitution.
“The West Point School Board and the other defendants (collectively, the School Board) terminated Peter Vlaming’s employment as a public-schoolteacher because he declined to express personal agreement with a message contrary to his deeply held religious beliefs. By punishing him for refusing to violate the dictates of his religion, the School Board penalized Vlaming in his civil capacity as a teacher because of his religious beliefs,” Miyares’ brief states.
Self-proclaimed “radical feminist” organization Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) also filed a brief supporting Vlaming’s case.
“As a radical feminist organization, WoLF rejects gender identity beliefs because they are founded on sex stereotypes and other subjective beliefs about sex,” the brief explains. “Radical feminists locate the root source of sexual oppression in the biological differences between males and females, and they seek to address the ways in which female sexual and reproductive capacity renders women and girls vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Those goals are thwarted when people are prohibited from speaking freely and accurately about human sex differences.”
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