Recently, Kansas teacher Pamela Ricard sued her school district, Geary County Schools, after being penalized for not wanting to use one of her student’s chosen pronouns. The reason, according to her own words was “for addressing a biologically female student by the student’s legal and enrolled last name.”
According to a school counselor, Ricard’s student wanted to go by a different first name and preferred masculine pronouns, even though the student is female.
However, because she has religious beliefs that Ricard decided would be violated if she used the student’s new preferred first name, she instead chose to refer to the student as “Miss [legal/enrolled last name].” This felt like a good middle ground for her.
Even though there was no policy to support his actions, Ricard was suspended and reprimanded “under generic school district policies related to bullying by staff.” When Ricard returned from her suspension, one was set in place stating that “employees should be aware and make an effort to utilize the pronouns an individual requests to be identified by.”
Ricard is suing claiming that their 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 read. “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.”
In May, after attending federal court, Ricard was awarded $95,000. Her attorneys stated that she is now “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.”
In addition, they confirmed that it is permissible for Ricard to “avoid pronouns for students who have requested pronouns inconsistent with their biological sex.”
The policy also included a rule that staff members could not disclose students’ preferred names and pronouns to their parents, but the court ruled against the district keeping that in the policy.
The district hasn’t supplied any comment, and there is no information about where the policies currently stand.
What are your thoughts on the results of this settlement, or how do you think the school district handled this case?