Tucker Carlson says Virginia anti-trans teacher who repeatedly misgendered student was "fired for thought crimes"
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Anti-trans Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Virginia teacher Peter Vlaming, who was fired for refusing to use a trans student’s correct pronouns. Carlson asserted that Vlaming was “fired for thought crimes” and could not “deny biology.”
Vlaming's case in West Point, VA, has received extensive local coverage, but most news stories failed to contextualize the harms of misgendering trans people and featured considerably more voices in favor of the teacher than the trans student. The story has gained steam and become a national headline, particularly as right-wing media has worked to gin up outrage over the events. Influential and extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has also started to weigh in. Carlson frequently targets the transgender community; he has accused members of the trans community of “faking” their identities, and he has denied that the trans community even exists. He is also cozy with extreme anti-LGBTQ groups such as ADF and the American College of Pediatricians.
During the segment, Carlson falsely said that Vlaming “didn’t use female pronouns” and avoided “pronouns entirely”; Vlaming also claimed that he “avoided feminine pronouns.” In fact, The Associated Press reported that while “it’s not suggested that [Vlaming] deliberately referred to the student using female pronouns in the student’s presence,” he did use them “in conversations with others” and referred to the student as “her” in class, which was described by witnesses as a “slip-up.” Carlson and his guests repeated false claims that Vlaming accommodated, respected, and did not “attack” the trans student. But misgendering the trans student and refusing to acknowledge his gender identity is considered harassment -- it stigmatizes trans people and has negative impacts on their self-confidence and mental health.
From the December 17 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight:
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TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): It's almost impossible to fire a public school teacher for incompetence. Go ahead and try, and you’ll find out. But it turns out it's very easy to get one fired for thought crimes. Until recently, Peter Vlaming thought -- taught, rather, at a high school in West Point, VA, but he was recently fired. Why? Because he refused to use male pronouns to refer to a biologically female student. He didn't use female pronouns. Instead, he just used the student's name, and avoiding pronouns entirely.
PETER VLAMING (TEACHER): I love and respect all of my students, including the student in question, and I did everything I could to accommodate the student's new identity. I used the new name, the new name. I avoided feminine pronouns, but male pronouns were a bridge too far. But I did everything in my power to accommodate and show respect towards this student and this student's choices.
CARLSON: So you never attacked the student or said, "You know, I disagree with what you’re doing," or belittled the student or anything like that?
VLAMING: Not at all.
CARLSON: Did at any point the question of biology arise? Could you stand on science and say, "Look, I'm not attacking this person. I’m using the name this person wants me to use, but I can't deny biology. We teach it here at the school." Did you try that?
VLAMING: I reiterated my respect for the student and for the student's choices, but that male pronouns were a bridge too far.
SHAWN VOYLES (VLAMING’S LAWYER): Tucker, we should point out that the school actually took a position contrary to biology. Peter was given an ultimatum by the superintendent that he should treat the student like every other male student, or he would be fired. And that would include using male pronouns. That’s of course contrary.