Virginia teacher sues school after being fired for not using transgender student's pronouns... (1 Viewer)

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SystemShock

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like what? Using a pronoun that student prefers?

I've had I don't know how many interactions with students over the years and I've seen some interesting requests from students and at some point personal judgment comes into play

one example was a student who wanted me to use "African American" instead of "Black." In my research, I use both - academics of all colors use "Black" as an acceptable term.

This student didn't like that, so I just stopped using it - and used "African American." And yea, I slipped up, too.

This is something central to that student's identity, as is gender and other core elements.

That's where and why I think your hyperbolic, hypothetical requested title isn't really a reasonable comparison.

I think this language around "white gloves" and "catering to *all* things" and "no matter what" is more handwringing than the scenario you're reacting against.

Maybe you have some other instance in mind vis a vis accommodations, but this doesn't seem to have the burden you're placing on it when it comes to the teacher in this situation.

Aside from your colleague, Rhonda/Robert, how many transgender people who are struggling have you had experience with? In what context and at what ages? And you said you stopped calling her Robert and calling her Rhonda. Why?
The hypothetical title I used was very much tongue in cheek... however, when it comes down to it, we are talking about a state of mind. That you call it hyperbolic (which it was) tells me there is a limit to how much you are willing to cater to someone's state of mind. I am willing to assume that you'd think someone who is adamant that they be called all of that to be a bit crazy. Now, I am not saying I think transgenders are crazy (feel I have to disclaim that, not for you, though).

As for someone who wants to be called "African American" instead of "black", it's different too. Being black is not a state of mind.

As to why I stopped calling my co-worker her old name, I eventually got used to it. Side note, didn't have the same issue with the Oracle rep I worked with. She went from Jeremiah to Kate (not actual names either). It may be because I didn't meet her in person until after she went to Kate, and the names were very different and very different sounding. My co-worker's given and preferred names are both soft sounding, you could call a female either one.

As for my experience with transgender people specifically?
The first transgender person I met, I was a kid. Friend of an uncle of mine who was gay and was very involved in theater. That was before the term transgender became popular. I knew them as travestis, which is/was the term in the Spanish speaking world.

As a teenager, one of my father's businesses put me in contact with other transgenders. That one requires a bit of an explanation, but is long, so I'll skip it... suffice to say, it had to do with show business. I actually met

As a young adult, going to college, I lived in the French Quarter for a number of years. My favorite deli was The Quartermaster, who at the time was staffed by a significant number of transgender people. I must confess, I flirted with some to get some extra macaroni salad.

I also used to go to The Parade on Tuesdays for their $0.50 rum and cokes. The Parade was more of an all inclusive club back then, but met plenty of transgenders there.

There was Angie (again, not real name), who used to frequent this locals bar in the Quarter. This wasn't a gay bar or anything, just a regular bar. She made money as a chip girl, and sometimes doing sexual favors in the bathroom, although the bartenders didn't like the sexual favors part. When I first met Angie, because of past experiences, I knew she was transgender, but if I ever met a passable transgender (that was a proper term back then, don't know if it isn't anymore) that was Angie. She was really funny too. And more than a few times, I had to defend Angie from angry drunks who realized too late she was packing, actually got in a fist fight once or twice.

Edit: to make it clear, that wasn't because I defending anyone's honor or anything. It was my hangout, I new the bartenders/wait staff, and just naturally (I guess) stepped in when trouble arose. And if someone swung at me, I swung back.

I guess those are the significant ones. I don't know if that gives me enough cred, though.

Funny... some people see me doing things with my left hand and they ask me if I am left handed with a surprised look on their face. I can imagine it can be hard for many to see a person as a man one day then as a woman the next.
 
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Ayo

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That you call it hyperbolic (which it was) tells me there is a limit to how much you are willing to cater to someone's state of mind. I am willing to assume that you'd think someone who is adamant that they be called all of that to be a bit crazy. Now, I am not saying I think transgenders are crazy (feel I have to disclaim that, not for you, though).
Of course there are - what you call - "limits." And we make these considerations all the time. Protected groups getting legal recognition for protections while others don't, for example. This is an ongoing discussion that continues to evolve and change with the times. I would also not call transgender a 'state of mind' really.

Is someone born female and identifies as female merely a 'state of mind' as, as such, should not be accommodated or protected? Is being homosexual a 'state of mind' and, as such, not protected (fully realizing that there's a spectrum of protections for this group at the moment)? And it might well be entirely 'a state of mind' - our sexual preference being wholly mental. But even in that case, it's not de facto grounds for exclusion, further to my point.

As for someone who wants to be called "African American" instead of "black", it's different too. Being black is not a state of mind.
actually, I think it's more complicated than this. There is no biological thing as 'race' - we've known this since at least 2000. A black dude in Zimbabwe can be more genetically similar to some white dude in the plains of Canada than another black dude in Somalia.

"Race" is in our heads - but it absolutely manifests itself in real, practical ways. Slavery. Voting rights. Red lining. Phrenology. Loans. Etc. So when I say "race is in our heads" that doesn't mean it also doesn't have impactful results.

We've *made* race a state of mind. And it actually hasn't been that long, relatively and anthropologically speaking

So, I'd argue that the two are not as dissimilar as your point here suggests.

I guess those are the significant ones. I don't know if that gives me enough cred, though.
it's not about 'cred'

I work with kids at the same age as the one in the article, some of whom have severe issues. And I think I'm approaching with that bias (not "cred") - seeing these kids, at this age, struggling with things that only compound the typical struggles these kids have in 'typical' adolescence. So I am probably 'softer' (not the right word) on this than most, as a result.

And while I'm trying to see where you're coming from, it felt like a fair question, because it might not be the same.

Again, not "cred"
 

SystemShock

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Of course there are - what you call - "limits." And we make these considerations all the time. Protected groups getting legal recognition for protections while others don't, for example. This is an ongoing discussion that continues to evolve and change with the times. I would also not call transgender a 'state of mind' really.

Is someone born female and identifies as female merely a 'state of mind' as, as such, should not be accommodated or protected?
Before I go on, I feel I need to clarify what I mean by "state of mind". I don't mean merely being in a certain mood. I mean what and who a person believes they are, the very nature of a person's self identity.

As for your question, it depends on how you are using female. Are you referring to gender, or chromosomes? Having ovaries, and all of the physical attributes that come with them, is not a state of mind.

Is being homosexual a 'state of mind' and, as such, not protected (fully realizing that there's a spectrum of protections for this group at the moment)? And it might well be entirely 'a state of mind' - our sexual preference being wholly mental. But even in that case, it's not de facto grounds for exclusion, further to my point.
Since science has not found a physiological homosexual trigger, yes, being a homosexual is a state of mind.

And yes, there are protections for homosexuals. You can't use them as kindle anymore. You can't deny them work for being homosexuals. You can't deny them housing for being homosexuals. You can't deny them marriage licenses any more either. But as far as I know, there are no protections or laws that require me to acknowledge their homosexuality every time I speak.

actually, I think it's more complicated than this. There is no biological thing as 'race' - we've known this since at least 2000. A black dude in Zimbabwe can be more genetically similar to some white dude in the plains of Canada than another black dude in Somalia.

"Race" is in our heads - but it absolutely manifests itself in real, practical ways. Slavery. Voting rights. Red lining. Phrenology. Loans. Etc. So when I say "race is in our heads" that doesn't mean it also doesn't have impactful results.

We've *made* race a state of mind. And it actually hasn't been that long, relatively and anthropologically speaking

So, I'd argue that the two are not as dissimilar as your point here suggests.
Sure, at the genetic level, all humans are basically the same. However, the outer physical appearance of an individual doesn't happen merely by chance, and we can trace, genetically, how these physical traits manifest. If 2 Nubians have a baby, can they have a blonde, blue eyed baby? Chances are, no. Is it possible? Probably not, if they have never been passed down the genetic mutation that gives eyes their blue hue.

Now, I do have a problem with you trying to rationalize and draw a comparison to the plight of Africans in the Western world, or the plight of homosexuals with the plight of someone who wants to be referred to as "him" instead of "her". Because that is basically what you are doing.

What I find ironic, in this day and age of gender fluidity (NYC recognizes 31, I have read of counts as high as 58 by different sources) that a relative small group of people are so bent on using the old, oppressive classifications.

Side note: if I had to refer to everyone as they want to, based on their gender identity, I am very sure I will offend most of them, because I won't remember how they all want to be referred as, or immediately recognize what their gender identity is. Should we come up with pronouns for each?

Speaking of physical traits, I was born left handed. I have to live in a right handed world. If you are right handed you may not think about it, but for me, being left handed is part of my "state of mind". And I mean that.

Surely they are some accommodations for left handed people, but not enough. "Learn to use the right hand", that's what they tell me... and "right" is a classification of good, correctness. Left? not so much. In some Romance languages, the right hand is your dexterity hand, the one with the ability; your left hand is the sinister hand. I was beaten with rulers as a child by nuns for writing with the hand of the devil. All doors open to the right, except for double doors, but you know the right door, the one to the right, is the one you should use to go in and out.
 

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Before I go on, I feel I need to clarify what I mean by "state of mind". I don't mean merely being in a certain mood. I mean what and who a person believes they are, the very nature of a person's self identity.
Yes. I didn't think you meant 'mood.' I meant 'very nature of a person's self identity' too.

As for your question, it depends on how you are using female. Are you referring to gender, or chromosomes? Having ovaries, and all of the physical attributes that come with them, is not a state of mind.
for this discussion, 'state of mind' as it relates to gender. Not sex. I figured that was implied considering the nature of the discussion. So are you saying that we should be using "sex" pronouns instead of "gender" pronouns?

Since science has not found a physiological homosexual trigger, yes, being a homosexual is a state of mind.
Yes, and like I said, it's further to my point.

And yes, there are protections for homosexuals. You can't use them as kindle anymore. You can't deny them work for being homosexuals. You can't deny them housing for being homosexuals. You can't deny them marriage licenses any more either. But as far as I know, there are no protections or laws that require me to acknowledge their homosexuality every time I speak.
How often do you refer to someone's sexuality when you talk? We use "him" and "her" a lot more often in conversation with, to, and about people much more than we hear references to sexuality. We are more likely to say "He said" than "The heterosexual said" as a matter of (dis)course.

Sure, at the genetic level, all humans are basically the same. However, the outer physical appearance of an individual doesn't happen merely by chance, and we can trace, genetically, how these physical traits manifest. If 2 Nubians have a baby, can they have a blonde, blue eyed baby? Chances are, no. Is it possible? Probably not, if they have never been passed down the genetic mutation that gives eyes their blue hue.
But this doesn't refute the notion of 'race' being more social than it is genetic, which was my point. Even in this post, you make a distinction between a "state of mind" and "hormones" - that's what I'm getting at. Race has obvious and real impact on lives in historically horrific ways. But that's a mental distinction more than it is reflected in our DNA. It used to be the case - not that long ago - that nationality meant more than melanin. The DNA markers for hair color and eye color and skin color and hair type is fractional compared to genetic determiners for, say, intelligence. And the discrimination faced is a result of perceptions around intelligence and gradations of humanity. We've done that.

Now, I do have a problem with you trying to rationalize and draw a comparison to the plight of Africans in the Western world, or the plight of homosexuals with the plight of someone who wants to be referred to as "him" instead of "her". Because that is basically what you are doing.
This is *not* what I am doing. I used other examples, too. But maybe it wasn't explicit enough, so I'll try again. I mentioned sexuality and sexual preference in the post, too. That seems to have been lost. So, my point was - demonstrably - not to analogize the "plights" of these two groups.

I think I've established that well enough over time.

Rather, the point was about core elements of identity. That is, someone's black-ness TO THEM is just as important as someone's gender is TO THEM. You were talking "mental state" and above you mentioned "self-identity."

That is what I am talking about. Not plight. It's absurd to suggest that I was saying 'pronoun oppression' is somehow comparable to 'chattel slavery.'

The core elements I am talking about are:
1. Gender
2. Race/Ethnicity
3. Able-bodied
4. Age
5. Sexuality
6. Family
7. Beliefs
8. Class

Pointing this out does *not* mean I am saying the "plight" of any of these groups is exactly the same or comparable to every single other. Lots of context is needed for that. Which is why I was specifically talking about how one area of someone's core identity will be as meaningful, or close to, as another. Age-ism isn't equal to racism, e.g.

Notions of self-identity. That's your criterion. Not systemic, historic oppression. That was not the criterion, nor was it my intent to do what you are suggesting.

Side note: if I had to refer to everyone as they want to, based on their gender identity, I am very sure I will offend most of them, because I won't remember how they all want to be referred as, or immediately recognize what their gender identity is. Should we come up with pronouns for each?
I really don't know. Maybe?

I do know, in this case, it's much more cut and dry. There was an explicit preference. The student objected. The teacher refused to relent. The teacher refused to be insubordinate. I think 'accidents' are totally excuseable - we've all made them. This was not accidental - he said it was based on his religion.

Again, I feel like we're talking about different things.

Speaking of physical traits, I was born left handed. I have to live in a right handed world. If you are right handed you may not think about it, but for me, being left handed is part of my "state of mind". And I mean that.

Surely they are some accommodations for left handed people, but not enough. "Learn to use the right hand", that's what they tell me... and "right" is a classification of good, correctness. Left? not so much. In some Romance languages, the right hand is your dexterity hand, the one with the ability; your left hand is the sinister hand. I was beaten with rulers as a child by nuns for writing with the hand of the devil. All doors open to the right, except for double doors, but you know the right door, the one to the right, is the one you should use to go in and out.
My son is left-handed - we've already run into issues. He'll have to live in a right-handed world.

He had basketball practice last week where the coach didn't know he was left-handed. He was coaching him with right-handed drills and telling him to use his right hand. I didn't realize this until after the practice, and we had to explain to the coach that he was left handed. That got corrected this week.

So, he had to open a door meant for right handers to get into the gym, but once in there, the coach didn't force him to use his right hand during practice after learning he was left-handed.

My aunt forced her son to use his right hand because she thought left-handedness was evil. I've told this story before.

Would it have been okay for this coach - if that was his religious belief - to force my son to use his right hand in practice even though my son is left-handed and he believed that the left-hand was evil and of the devil?

Of course not.

Thanks for the example. I think it's an interesting analogy.
 

lurk

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Anyway, I don't know if it is any better or any worse. It just seems ridiculous to me that someone would lose their job because that someone used "her" instead of "him" to refer to a student during a conversation with other people regarding an incident in class.
So what if the teacher consistently referred to your son as "she" or your daughter as "he" during class and to other educators/administrators because the teacher felt your child had a quality that made him/her make more sense as the other gender? What if the teacher assigned your child a nickname that was not the child's given name and not a name the child liked or that anyone else called the child? Would you be ok with the teacher's behavior in those situations? Can you argue with a straight face that either of those situations demonstrate anything other than a blatant attempt by the teacher to openly show disdain for the student and put the student down compared to others? Do you really think that that's appropriate behavior for an authority figure who deals with children and, thus, sets the example?
 

SystemShock

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So what if the teacher consistently referred to your son as "she" or your daughter as "he" during class and to other educators/administrators because the teacher felt your child had a quality that made him/her make more sense as the other gender? What if the teacher assigned your child a nickname that was not the child's given name and not a name the child liked or that anyone else called the child? Would you be ok with the teacher's behavior in those situations? Can you argue with a straight face that either of those situations demonstrate anything other than a blatant attempt by the teacher to openly show disdain for the student and put the student down compared to others? Do you really think that that's appropriate behavior for an authority figure who deals with children and, thus, sets the example?
How about one hypothetical at the time? Let's take the case at hand.

I'd like to say that I'd take the opportunity as a teaching opportunity for my child, however, I'd have had that conversation in advance, explaining to my child that we can't expect everyone to accept us by who or what we are, especially when it comes to religious zealots and anything that has to do with sexual orientation or gender, and that you have to learn to pick your battles. And in this particular case, as long as this teacher is treating you just like any other student in class, not to worry about what 3rd person pronoun he's using when you are not there, especially when in a few months, he'll be in the past anyway.

I'd also have a chat with the teacher to make sure the treatment of my child in class and work is no different from any other student. Because then we will have a problem.

Now, disdain is a strong word. So, yes, I can argue with a straight face that it isn't necessarily so that someone despises something because they think is wrong.
 

lurk

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I'd like to say that I'd take the opportunity as a teaching opportunity for my child, however, I'd have had that conversation in advance, explaining to my child that we can't expect everyone to accept us by who or what we are, especially when it comes to religious zealots and anything that has to do with sexual orientation or gender, and that you have to learn to pick your battles. And in this particular case, as long as this teacher is treating you just like any other student in class, not to worry about what 3rd person pronoun he's using when you are not there, especially when in a few months, he'll be in the past anyway.

....

Now, disdain is a strong word. So, yes, I can argue with a straight face that it isn't necessarily so that someone despises something because they think is wrong.
A teacher who intentionally refers to your little boy (not your little girl who transitioned to a little boy) as "she" instead of "he" does not have disdain for him? You would handle that by telling him to suck it up for a few months until he gets another teacher? I don't think either of us believes that for a second.
 

SystemShock

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A teacher who intentionally refers to your little boy (not your little girl who transitioned to a little boy) as "she" instead of "he" does not have disdain for him? You would handle that by telling him to suck it up for a few months until he gets another teacher? I don't think either of us believes that for a second.
Hold on a second. Your indignation is affecting your reading comprehension. Like I said, let's talk about the case at hand. What you are describing is different.
 

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Hold on a second. Your indignation is affecting your reading comprehension. Like I said, let's talk about the case at hand. What you are describing is different.
What I am describing are situations of a teacher intentionally refusing to use the appropriately-gendered pronoun or name to address a student - situations which I have personally either directly experienced myself or directly witnessed happen to another student. That is entirely germane to this thread, and your refusal to engage speaks volumes about your need to compartmentalize the transgender situation in order to continue to defend it.
 

SystemShock

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What I am describing are situations of a teacher intentionally refusing to use the appropriately-gendered pronoun or name to address a student - situations which I have personally either directly experienced myself or directly witnessed happen to another student. That is entirely germane to this thread, and your refusal to engage speaks volumes about your need to compartmentalize the transgender situation in order to continue to defend it.
Side note: you may want to revise that last sentence.

The only thing that speaks volumes is your indignation and your desire to talk about a different situation than the one we are discussing, i.e., the OP.

If you can't see the difference between the situation at hand and your scenario, I don't know what to tell you.

[Mod Edit :nono: this seems unnecessary to say. Let's not make it personal. SH]
 
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lurk

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If you can't see the difference between the situation at hand and your scenario, I don't know what to tell you.
If you feel that there is a significant difference between the two situations, then explain it to me. This is only the fourth post I've made asking you to do so.
 

SystemShock

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If you feel that there is a significant difference between the two situations, then explain it to me. This is only the fourth post I've made asking you to do so.
Isn't it obvious?

In the OP's case, an abnormal event occurred, and this one individual (the teacher) has issues dealing with it. In your scenario, someone simply decides to antagonize someone else for no reason whatsoever.
 

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... so, let me get this right. This teacher got fired because he wouldn't use 3rd person pronouns while talking about the transgender student to others? I assume the faculty?
I believe you missed the key word "also". Sounded like a second transgression not the only.
 

lurk

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Isn't it obvious?

In the OP's case, an abnormal event occurred, and this one individual (the teacher) has issues dealing with it. In your scenario, someone simply decides to antagonize someone else for no reason whatsoever.
Except not. In my example, the teacher decides to antagonize the student due to bias, the same as in the transgender situation. The same reason is at the root, even if the details are different.
 

SystemShock

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Except not. In my example, the teacher decides to antagonize the student due to bias, the same as in the transgender situation. The same reason is at the root, even if the details are different.
Well, the devil is in the details, isn't it?
It is not the same thing.

Not everyone is going to accept you for what you are or for who you are. And you can't force people to accept you either. You don't need to be transgender to have people smile to your face and call you names behind your back, or even the wrong pronoun. You could be like me, Mexican :hihi:
 

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