Burke, a 10-year-tenured teacher of history, politics and German employed at Wilson’s Hospital School in Westmeath, Ireland, was arrested when school officials told a High Court the teacher continues to show up for work in violation of a suspension pending a hearing on his refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns when addressing students.
Mr. Burke had refused to address a student, who wishes to transition from one gender to another, by the student’s preferred pronoun of “they” rather than he or she. He told the headmaster, Niamh McShane, that he could not agree with the directive and that it was against the beliefs of the Church of Ireland.
“Transgenderism is against my Christian beliefs. It is contrary to the scriptures, contrary to the ethos of the Church of Ireland and of my school,” Burke said. He noted it was a constitutional violation.
Burke was court-ordered to stay away from the campus, but he defied the order, saying, “I love my school, with its motto Res Non Verba, ‘Actions not words.’”
“I am here today because I would not call a boy a girl,” Burke told the Judge.
“I am a teacher, and I don’t want to go to prison,” Burke told the court. “I want to be in my classroom today, that’s where I was this morning when I was arrested.”
Justice Michael Quinn ordered Burke to the Mountjoy Prison until he either purges his contempt or until a court orders otherwise. Burke has a bachelor’s degree in theological studies and another in politics and history. His Master’s degree is in education.
Recently, a Kansas teacher was awarded $95,000 when she sued the Geary County School District for being fired because she refused to deceive parents about their children’s preferred gender-neutral pronouns. She refused to follow the directive citing her Christian beliefs.