Teacher Jailed for Violating Court Order in Row Over Student's Chosen Pronouns

Enoch Burke, a teacher in County Westmeath, Ireland, who refused to use a transgender student's chosen pronouns, was jailed on Tues. after ignoring a court order that barred him from entering his school's grounds.

Teacher Jailed for Violating Court Order in Row Over Student's Chosen Pronouns
Image credit: Feliphe Schiarolli / Unsplash

Facts

  • Enoch Burke, a teacher in County Westmeath, Ireland, who refused to use a transgender student's chosen pronouns, was jailed on Tues. after ignoring a court order that barred him from entering his school's grounds.
  • The History and German teacher was suspended and placed on administrative leave in June, when he refused to use a transgender student's preferred pronouns of "they/them" - something that the pupil and their parents had agreed with the school.
  • Burke argued that gender neutral pronouns went against his Christian beliefs and that being forced to use the student's preferred pronouns would have breached his constitutional rights.
  • He was placed on administrative leave from the Church of Ireland school in Aug. and barred from its premises while the school conducted a disciplinary investigation. However, a court heard Burke say on Mon. that he would not comply with the order and intended to return to school. The school itself confirmed Burke had returned to the premises in violation of the ban.
  • Justice Michael Quinn ordered Burke to remain incarcerated until he agrees to comply with the injunction keeping him from school grounds and preventing him from teaching. Burke has countered that suspension is reserved for teachers who are guilty of gross misconduct, while he is only defending his beliefs.
  • When announcing the sentence, Justice Quinn emphasised that he was only ruling on whether there had been a wilful breach of the court order and that his assessment was not pertinent to Mr Burke's religious convictions.

Sources: Daily Mail, Daily Caller, Telegraph, Newsweek, and Independent.

Narratives

  • Conservative narrative, as provided by Premier Christianity. No school, especially not a Christian school, should be enabling children down the dangerous path of gender transition. It is commendable that Burke is so committed to the beliefs of his Christian faith. By choosing to stay in prison rather than disobey his conscience, Burke is setting himself up as a martyr in this contentious liberal culture war.
  • Progressive narrative, as provided by CBS. Burke is not being imprisoned for his beliefs, but rather because he publicly harrased a student and a teacher during a school church service. He is not a martyr - he committed contempt of court and demonstrated prejudice against a member of a minority community.