Kansas teacher Pamela Ricard recently sued her school district, Geary County Schools, after being reprimanded and suspended for three days for refusing to use one of her student’s preferred pronouns. In her own words, the reason was “for addressing a biologically female student by the student’s legal and enrolled last name.”
Ricard, who teaches at Fort Riley Middle School, was told by a school counselor that this student wanted to be called a different first name than their legal one, and also preferred a different gender’s pronouns (he/him) even though this student was born a female.
However, due to her religious beliefs Ricard decided to refer to the student as “Miss [legal/enrolled last name]” to avoid using the student’s new preferred first name. She felt this was a good middle ground.
Though there was no set policy in place that would address this matter, according to the lawsuit, Ricard was suspended and reprimanded “under generic school district policies related to bullying by staff.” However, one was set in place when Ricard returned from her suspension, stating that “employees should be aware and make an effort to utilize the pronouns an individual requests to be identified by.”
However, Ricard’s lawsuit claims the policy “violated her conscience.”
“Ms. Ricard is a Christian and holds sincere religious beliefs consistent with the traditional Christian and biblical understanding of the human person and biological sex,” the lawsuit stated. “Ms. Ricard believes that God created human beings as either male or female, that this sex is fixed in each person from the moment of conception, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of an individual person’s feelings, desires, or preferences.”
After attending federal court In May, Ricard was awarded a whopping $95,000, with attorneys stating that Ricard was “free to speak without violating her conscience by communicating with parents in a manner consistent with how she is required to address the students at school.”
Additionally, they said that Ricard was okay to continue to “avoid pronouns for students who have requested pronouns inconsistent with their biological sex.”
The new policy also stated that staff members could not disclose students’ preferred names and pronouns to their parents, and the court ruled against the district keeping that in the policy as well.
The district supplied zero comment and there hasn’t been any updates on where the current policies stand.
What do you think of the results of this settlement, or how the school district treated this case?