A Christian teacher who refused to use gender-neutral pronouns at a school in Ireland has been jailed for breaching a court order after turning up to work following a suspension.
Enoch Burke has described the ordeal as “insanity,” after he was arrested on Monday morning for attending his place of work, despite being requested to stay away from Wilson’s Hospital School in County Westmeath, pending an investigation.
During a court hearing, Mr. Burke, who teaches German, history, and politics at the school, told the presiding judge: “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.
“I am here today because I said I would not call a boy a girl,” he told the court, adding that “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.”
Mr. Burke was suspended from his teaching duties while his employers conducted an investigation into allegations of gross misconduct, a move he described as “unreasonable, unjust, and unfair.”
“It is extraordinary and reprehensible that someone’s religious beliefs on this matter could ever be taken as grounds for an allegation of misconduct.
“My religious beliefs are not misconduct. They are not gross misconduct. They never will be. They are dear to me. I will never deny them and never betray them, and I will never bow to an order that would require me to do so. It is just not possible for me to do that.”
He insisted the suspension had “tarnished [his] good character” and lamented the fact that teachers around the country “are being forced to participate” in the promotion of transgenderism, claiming “they are being forced to use the pronoun ‘they’ instead of either ‘he’ or ‘she’.”
The school’s managing board said they had no other choice but to request that Mr. Burke be sent to prison, as he simply refused to comply with a court order to stay away from his place of employment.
“It is a coercive order we are seeking, not a punitive order. We are simply seeking to have Mr. Burke comply with the order,” counsel for the managing board told Judge Michael Quinn.
“Mr. Burke is knowingly in breach of this order; he is therefore in contempt, and he has made it clear that if he is not committed to prison, he will attend the school, and the concerns of the school regarding the ongoing disruption to the students remain,” she added.
Mr. Burke was sent to Mountjoy prison and told that he could agree to willfully comply with the court order at any point should he choose to do so.
A disciplinary hearing at the school is scheduled to take place later this month.