Enoch Burke, who teaches history, politics, and German at Wilson’s Hospital School was arrested Monday after he violated a court order prohibiting him from teaching classes or even being present on the school’s campus in Westmeath, the Irish news outlet RTE reported.
He is now in Mountjoy Prison, where he will stay until he purges his contempt or the court issues further orders. The initial ruling was handed down by High Court Judge Michael Quinn.
Burke’s ordeal began after he refused to call a student who was transitioning from male to identifying as female as “they” instead of “he.” The educator’s refusal prompted school officials to place him on paid administrative leave until a disciplinary process is completed.
“I love my school, with its motto, Res Non Verba, [which means] ‘Actions Not Words,’” the embattled teacher told the court. “But I am here today because I said I would not call a boy a girl.”
The dustup ended with Burke being locked behind bars after he refused to stay away from his classroom.
On Friday, Quinn issued an order for Burke’s arrest after he was found on the school premises, sitting in an empty classroom — presumably as a sign of protest over school and governmental officials’ violation of his sincerely held Christian convictions.
“Transgenderism is against my Christian belief,” he told the judge. “It is contrary to the Scriptures, contrary to the ethos of the Church of Ireland, and of my school.”
Burke was taken into custody Monday and sent directly to court. He told the judge he could not comply with the injunction against him because it violated his devout beliefs.
“I am a teacher and I don’t want to go to prison,” Burke explained. “I want to be in my classroom today. That’s where I was this morning, when I was arrested.”
The teacher, who has no criminal record, is expected to be moved in with the general prison population Tuesday, according to The Irish Times, on a landing with other nonviolent offenders. He will be placed in a single-person cell with a toilet, shower, and television.
Burke’s next court appearance is slated for Wednesday. As for school administrators, they commissioned a report on the matter and arranged for a disciplinary meeting to be held Sept. 14.