The teacher may avoid using students’ pronouns because of religious beliefs: judge
A judge’s ruling will now block a school’s policy against exiting transgender students and also allow a teacher to override preferred pronouns on the basis of religious freedom.
On Monday, District Judge Holly Teeter, appointed by former President Donald Trump, issued a preliminary injunction in the case of Pamela Ricard, a Kansas math teacher who sued Geary County Schools for $475 over her policies to protect LGBT students, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal. Ricard argued that the rules conflicted with his Christian beliefs.
Ricard’s problems began with two transgender students in his class, who, according to district rules, did not allow faculty members to divulge their preferred names or pronouns to their families. She argued that referring to students by different names in class and in communications with families was against her sincere religious beliefs.
“The Court relies on plaintiff’s statements that she has no intention of contacting a parent for the sole purpose of disclosing a student’s name and preferred pronouns,” Teeter wrote in her statement. decision on Monday. “The complainant believes that addressing students in one way at school and in a different way when speaking to their parents is dishonest. Being dishonest violates her sincere religious beliefs.”
The decision, however, will not be in effect for very long. Teeter’s injunction will remain in place until Wednesday, or until the end of Ricard’s contract at Fort Riley Middle School, whichever comes later. The ruling isn’t permanent and doesn’t apply to other teachers at the school, though it could set a precedent for school districts facing similar issues across the country.
Ricard, according to the court records consulted by the Capital-Journal, does not plan to continue teaching at the school, located on a military base in the Flint Hills area of Kansas, after his current contract ends. She began her tenure at the school in 2005.
“This litigation is a political stunt funded by a right-wing special interest group and does not reflect the views of the vast majority of people in Kansas and across the country who support the protection of LGBTQ+ people,” Will Rapp, a Kansas based LGBT activist with GLSEN, said in a statement to the Capital-Journal. “Our leaders should support school policies that protect and support transgender students, including policies to prevent educators from taking students out.”
Ricard was first disciplined by the school in the spring of 2021 after students reported she had been “visibly transphobic” and “mistreating/naming” transgender students. She sued the school in March that year, claiming rules requiring her to address students with their preferred names and pronouns discriminate against her religious beliefs.
“I hope the district can start creating parenting policies that don’t require teachers to lie to parents and violate a parent’s right to know what’s going on with their child,” said Joshua Ney, Ricard’s lawyer, after the decision.
Newsweek contacted Geary County Schools USD475 for comment.