A Christian teacher who refused to use a student’s “they/them” pronouns has been imprisoned in Ireland.
“Schoolteacher Enoch Burke has been charged with contempt of court and committed to Mountjoy Prison after failing to comply with a High Court injunction preventing him from attending or teaching at his secondary school in County Westmeath,” Irish Central reported.
Burke was arrested at Wilson’s Hospital School on Monday morning after disobeying a court order and “sitting in an empty classroom” at the school.
The court order forbid Burke from teaching at his school or being physically present on its grounds.
Christian teacher Enoch Burke who was suspended from an Irish school for refusing to use pronouns in the classroom has today said in court that even if he remains in prison ‘for the next 100 years’, he will not compromise his religious beliefs. pic.twitter.com/i7h6pyOBjY
— Sachin Jose (@Sachinettiyil) September 7, 2022
— 🇬🇧 Jolene Bunting 🇬🇧 (@jolenebuntinguk) September 7, 2022
“It is insanity that I will be led from this courtroom to a place of incarceration, but I will not give up my Christian beliefs,” Burke stated.
The dispute began over his refusal to address a transitioning student as ‘they’ rather than ‘he’, as requested by the student and their parents in May.
The Daily Mail reported:
Counsel for Wilson’s Hospital School’s board of management said it was with a ‘heavy heart’ that it sought Mr Burke’s committal to prison, but she said her client had been left with no choice as Mr Burke continued to attend the school, despite the court order which it had obtained last week.
The dispute began over his refusal to address a transitioning student as ‘they’ rather than ‘he’, as requested by the student and their parents in May, and agreed to by the Church of Ireland school.
This escalated to his suspension on the day before the start of the autumn term, pending the outcome of a disciplinary process.
He had refused to remain away from the school on paid leave for that suspension, the court heard, and would sit in an empty classroom, declaring that he was there to work.
Mr Burke told Judge Quinn: ‘I am a teacher and I don’t want to go to prison. I want to be in my classroom today, that’s where I was this morning when I was arrested.’
He said he loved his students, to whom he teaches German, history and politics, as well as debating.
‘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.’
“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,” Burke said.
“It is extraordinary and reprehensible that someone’s religious beliefs on this matter could ever be taken as grounds for an allegation of misconduct,” he added.
Irish Central noted:
He will remain in Mountjoy Prison until he purges his contempt or until further orders from the High Court, Mr. Justice Michael Quinn told the court on Monday.
Burke was placed on paid administrative leave from the school in mid-August pending the result of a disciplinary process. The disciplinary process commenced after Burke publicly voiced his opposition to the school principal’s request to address a transitioning student by the pronoun “they” and by a different name.
Burke, who does not agree with transgenderism, allegedly challenged the school principal on the subject at a school function in June.
The High Court has heard that Burke believes a belief system has been forced upon the students at the school, while he also claims that the request is a breach of constitutional rights.
The school has denied that anyone is being “forced” to do anything.