A Christian teacher who was punished for not kowtowing to a Kansas school’s pro-transgender culture is fighting back.
Last year, math teacher Pamela Ricard received a three-day paid suspension and then was given a written reprimand for not using whatever pronouns appease a student, regardless of the student’s biological sex.
Ricard is suing Geary County Schools Unified School District for violating her First Amendment rights, according to The Washington Post.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas this month, says Ricard is being forced to speak and act in a way that violates her religious beliefs,
“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,” the lawsuit said, according to the Post.
“Any policy that requires Ms. Ricard to refer to a student by a gendered, nonbinary, or plural pronoun (e.g., he/him, she/her, they/them, zhe/zher, etc.) or salutation (Mr., Miss, Ms.) or other gendered language that is different from the student’s biological sex actively violates Ms. Ricard’s religious beliefs.”
The incident that triggered the suspension took place when Ricard, a teacher at Fort Riley Middle School, called a student “Miss” to get her attention at the end of class.
After being told by a counselor and a classmate the student wanted to be referred to as a male, Ricard used the student’s last name.
That prompted a classmate to leave Ricard a note reading, “His pronouns are He/Him & if you cant act like an Adult & respect him & his pronouns then prepare yourself to deal with his mother since you cant be a decent human being and respect him. All youre doing right now is showing that youre transphobic & don’t care that youre being visibly transphobic.”
In the months after her suspension and reprimand, Ricard appealed the actions at least three times but was turned down, according to the lawsuit.
“The District and the Defendants now threaten to punish Ms. Ricard again if she continues to refrain from using a student’s preferred pronouns, express her views through silence or neutral language, or even engage in a neutral policy of referring to students by their enrolled last names or with other gender-neutral language,” the lawsuit said via the Post.
School officials have not commented about the suit.
Josh Ney, an attorney for Ricard, told the Post that the district has been “inconsistently attempting to enforce successive drafts of its new pronoun policies and ‘equity’ training initiatives.”
The suit notes that at the time of the Ricard incident, the district had no policy in place that she could have violated.
“The school district disciplined Ms. Ricard not for something she said, but for something she couldn’t say,” Ney said.
Ricard said she is caught in a situation that should not exist.
“No public school teacher should be forced to contradict their core beliefs in order to teach math to middle schoolers,” Ricard, who still works at the school, told the Post. “I treat all students with respect, but the district has rejected any attempts to find a compromise that respects students without violating my convictions.”
The issue remains hanging over Ricard’s head because, as the lawsuit says, she has two students whose preferred pronouns do not match their biological sex.
That means that if she does not violate her beliefs in every instance, she could be punished, the lawsuit said.
“Ms. Ricard faces the imminent possibility of subsequent disciplinary action, up to and including termination, should she violate the District Policies by seeking, consistent with her conscience and religious beliefs, to avoid the use of preferred pronouns of students or employees that are different from the student’s or employee’s biological sex,” the lawsuit said.
“I continue to enjoy teaching my students day in and day out, but the stigma of being officially labeled a ‘bully’ simply for using a student’s enrolled last name has been disheartening,” Ricard said, according to CNN.
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