There are ways of dealing with such things as impolite people and firing them probably isn’t one of them. Of course, an employer can – or at least should be able to – hire and or fire anyone they like. But still, to fire someone because they use the wrong pronoun might seem just a little extreme.
A Virginia high school teacher was fired for transgender discrimination on Thursday after he refused to use a student’s preferred pronoun, officials said.
Well, yes and no, yes and no.
Peter Vlaming, a French teacher at West Point High School, was fired after the School Board voted 5-0 in favor of terminating his role. The decision was made after Vlaming disobeyed orders to refer to a ninth-grade student as a male following his gender transition. The case is believed to be the first of its kind in the state, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
No, I am not arguing about whether people ought to use the pronoun of choice or not. Nor, absolutely not, am I arguing abut trans, trans rights or anything like that. Rather, I’m interested in which court do we judge these things?
His lawyer, Shawn Voyles, said Mr Vlaming declined a female student’s request to be referred to as a male. Mr Voyles said he offered to use the student’s name and to avoid feminine pronouns. The lawyer claims the school was not willing to accept the compromise – choosing to force Mr Vlaming to speak and act in opposition to his own Christian beliefs or be sacked.
I’m also not arguing that Christians should have some right that others don’t. Again, it’s how do we resolve these things that matters.
The thing is, we used to have a system that worked rather well. Using the name, pronoun, desired by the person being addressed – or not doing so – was a matter of politesse. Those not polite were judged by the society around them according to the standards of that society. This varied according to the fine gradations of where one was too. In the age old example, we don’t fart at the tea table with granny in quite the same way we do in the games locker room. Nor, actually, do we usually dress in quite the same manner, more than a wet towel being considered useful for meeting granny.
But there’s no law about farting, no court. There’s simply social shunning for those who don’t obey those social laws.
Which is rather the way we around here think things should still be. Using he, she or xe, sure, some people would prefer to be addressed by one or other variant. Those who are polite will do so. Those who aren’t polite might not and we can all react to that impolitesse as we wish. The current dispensation does seem to be regressing to an almost Victorian imposition of uniformity…
We’d even go far enough to suggest that we’d prefer those guilty of wrongthink to reveal themselves so we can shun them.