A teacher in Ireland has been suspended from work and then jailed for contempt of court after he refused to use the correct pronouns to address a transgender student.
Enoch Burke was arrested on Monday for violating a court order barring him from teaching at Wilson’s Hospital School in Westmeath, or even being present there, the news site RTE.ie reported.
Judge Michael Quinn found Burke guilty of violating an order made by the High Court last week and sent him to Mountjoy Prison, where he will remain until he either purges his contempt, or until further order from the court.
The teacher remained defiant in the face of jail time, telling the judge that “it is insanity” that he will be led out of the courtroom and taken to prison for refusing to give up his Christian beliefs.
“I love my school, with its motto Res Non Verba, actions not words, but I am here today because I said I would not call a boy a girl,” Burke told the court.
The scandal surrounding Burke began unfolding after the educator, who teaches history, politics and German at the school in Multyfarnham, County Westmeath, refused to address a transitioning student as “they” instead of “he.”
Burke’s stance prompted school officials to place him on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary process.
But the teacher refused to stay away from campus, despite an injunction that was issued barring him from going to the school, or attempting to teach.
On Friday, the judge issued an order to arrest Burke after he was found sitting in an empty classroom at the school.
Burke was taken into custody at the school on Monday and taken directly to court, where he told the judge he could not comply with the injunction because it would violate his conscience.
“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.”
He added: “Transgenderism is against my Christian belief. It is contrary to the scriptures, contrary to the ethos of the Church of Ireland and of my school.”