Cases & Advocacy

Vlaming v. West Point School Board

Status: Open

Outcome: Victory

Location: Virginia

Jurisdiction + Case Number: E.D. Va., Case No. 3:19-cv-773; Va. Cir. Ct. (King William Co.), Case No. CL19-454

John Doe is a transgender student at West Point High School. Despite repeated requests from John and school administrators, John’s French teacher, Peter Vlaming, refused to use male pronouns when referring to John. Vlaming used female pronouns when referring to John on multiple occasions, both in class and during conversations with John’s classmates. His refusal to use the correct pronouns jeopardized John’s privacy by disclosing that John is transgender to his classmates, some of whom did not know. The school administration spoke with Vlaming about his incorrect pronoun use, but he insisted that he could not refer to John using male pronouns. Vlaming’s mistreatment of John violated the school district’s nondiscrimination policies and Vlaming was fired in December 2018.

On September 27, 2019, Vlaming sued the West Point School Board in Virginia Circuit Court for King William County for allegedly violating his constitutional right to free speech and free excerise of religion, among other claims. The West Point School Board moved to have the case heard in the local federal court.

On November 25, 2019, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Locke & Quinn, and Jenner & Block LLP moved to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of John Doe.

On June 7, 2021, the Virginia state court dismissed Vlaming’s claims that his termination violated his rights under the Virginia Constitution and state laws. Vlaming’s only remaining claim is that West Point School Board breached his employment contract by not following the correct procedures to terminate his employment. Because the state court dismissed those claims, the court also denied John Doe’s motion to intervene in the case.