A Christian teacher in Kansas has filed a lawsuit against her school district after she was suspended for choosing not to use a student's transgender first name and pronouns.
Pamela Ricard, a math teacher at Fort Riley Middle School, was reprimanded and suspended in April 2021 because she called a student "miss." She was advised that the student no longer felt like a girl and now used he/him pronouns and a different first name.
Ricard said referring to students by anything other than their biological sex violates her religious beliefs.
Neither the school nor the Geary County School District had formal guidelines on gender pronouns at the time, but Ricard was still accused of breaching the district's bullying, diversity, and inclusion policies.
Shortly after Ricard's suspension, the middle school principal forwarded staff members new training material, forcing them to use students' preferred names and pronouns.
The teacher took legal action on March 7 and filed suit in U.S. District Court.
According to the court case, Ricard asked several times to receive a religious exemption to the policy, but her requests were denied.
Last September, the school district's Board of Education passed a policy requiring teachers to use students' preferred names and pronouns. The lawsuit points out that the school district has threatened further discipline against Ricard if she does not comply with the new policies or chooses to use gender-neutral language.
Ricard is suing the school board, Superintendent Reginald Eggleston, and Fort Riley Middle School principal Kathleen Brennan. The lawsuit states that the actions taken against the teacher violate her constitutional rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.
"Our suit contends that schools cannot force teachers to promote novel views about gender fluidity and ever-expanding pronoun categories without regard to the First Amendment or due process," said Josh Ney, one of Ricard's attorneys. "Throughout her career, Ms. Ricard has consistently treated every student in her classroom with respect and dignity; unfortunately, the school district has not treated Ms. Ricard with similar good faith or basic fairness."
The math teacher is seeking "nominal damages" and for her disciplinary record to be cleared.
Cases like Ricard's have become common over the past year where teachers refuse to dishonor their religious convictions by calling children by their new preferred pronouns.
CBN News previously reported that a northern Virginia physical education teacher was placed on leave after he said he would not affirm transgender identities for students.
Tanner Cross battled the Loudoun County School Board for nearly a year after he was suspended from teaching over his religious beliefs. He won his case in November.
Another Virginia teacher quit her job during a school board meeting in August because she strongly opposed several issues including transgender policies and critical race theory. She argued that "politicized agendas" were being pushed on staff and students.
Another Virginia teacher, Peter Vlaming, was fired for refusing to call a transgender student by their preferred pronoun. His case is currently before the Virginia state Supreme Court.
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