A teacher in Ireland has been thrown in jail for contempt of court after he disobeyed an order to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns.
Enoch Burke teaches at Wilson’s Hospital School in Westmeath and was arrested on Monday for violating a court order that barred him from teaching at the school or setting foot on its property. He was found guilty of violating the order by Judge Michael Quinn and sent to local Mountjoy Prison.
The judge ordered Burke to remain imprisoned until he purges himself of his contempt of the order or until the court issues further orders.
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When he was hauled before Judge Quinn on Monday, Burke remained defiant of the court’s previous order. He told the judge that it is “insanity” that he could be taken to prison simply for refusing to go against his firmly held Christian beliefs.
Burke, who teaches history, politics, and German, initially found himself in hot water because he refused to address a transitioning student as “they” rather than “he.”
Burke was subjected to an administrative disciplinary proceeding that led to him being placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation. When Burke refused to stay off campus, the school sought a court injunction ordering him not to attempt to teach at the school or even enter campus.
When Burke was allegedly found sitting alone in an empty classroom at the school on Friday, the judge issued an arrest warrant commanding him to be brought before the court.
Burke was then arrested when he came back to campus on Monday and taken directly to Judge Quinn’s courtroom.
Burke defiantly told the judge that he had not obeyed the injunction because it violates his conscience. He said that he did not want to go to prison, but said he is a teacher and wanted “to be in my classroom today, that’s where I was this morning when I was arrested.”
He also told the judge that transgenderism is contrary to his Christain belief, the scriptures, and the ethos of his school and the Church of Ireland.
The judge told Burke to take a moment to contemplate his statements and the order that he told him he was ready to impose. Burke stood his ground, telling the court that he could not purge his contempt of the order by in turn holding his own Christian beliefs in contempt.
Judge Quinn then ordered that Burke be led away by court officers to a van waiting to take him away to Mountjoy Prison.