Irish Teacher Imprisoned for Continuing to Teach after Refusing to Use ‘Gender-Neutral’ Pronouns
An Irish teacher was put in prison after he refused to use “gender-neutral” pronouns, telling the judge he would continue going to the school to teach despite a court order barring him from the premises.
Enoch Burke was temporarily suspended on full pay from the Wilson’s Hospital School after refusing a request from the principal to address a transgender student by “they” instead of “he,” according to Irish outlet Independent.ie.
The evangelical Christian continued to show up to work everyday despite the suspension, leading the boarding school to get an interlocutory injunction restraining him from coming in the building.
When Burke persisted in showing up to work, the school’s board of management filed a further application, and on Friday, Justice Miriam O’Regan ordered Burke to be arrested and brought into court.
In court, Burke continued to insist on showing up to school teach, saying, “I love my school. I am here today because I would not call a boy a girl,” the outlet reported.
Staying away the school “is not something I will do. It is in violation of my conscience,” Burke added.
The teacher claimed that his suspension was invalid and that he would’ve had to “commit an act of gross misconduct” for it to be justified, according to the outlet.
“It is reprehensible that anyone’s religious beliefs could be taken as a ground for misconduct or gross misconduct,” Burke said. “Were I to obey the order of the board of management and the order of the court, I would have to accept that sticking by my belief in male and female is wrong.”
“It is not something I will do. It is in violation of my conscience,” he added, saying, “Were I to go into the school and bow to something I know to be manifestly wrong, it would be a shame and a disgrace on my part.”
Justice Michael Quinn ordered Burke be committed to Mountjoy Prison and remain there indefinitely “until he purges his contempt or until further order of this court.”
Burke refused to comply with the court’s order after the judge’s decision, saying, “I cannot purge my contempt by holding my Christian beliefs in contempt.”
Wilson’s Hospital School is a secondary school — or high school — run by the Church of Ireland. It is co-ed and caters to boarding and day students.