Devout Christian Pamela Ricard is suing Geary County School District board members, as well as other officials for what she says is a violation of her First Amendment rights. The furore began last year when the teacher called a biologically female student “miss”. According to reports, following the class, another student emailed Ms Ricard to inform her the student now used he/him pronouns and identified as a boy.
The teacher was then labelled “transphobic” the following day when she used the student’s surname, avoiding the use of any pronoun.
Adding to the confusion, the student writing to the teacher to explain the situation ended the email by saying: “My pronouns are he/they by the way.”
In the lawsuit, Ms Ricard says she was uncomfortable with referring to the students by names and pronouns that were different from what was listed in the district’s enrolment system.
After some disagreement with school officials on how to handle the situation, Ms Ricard was suspended and later issued a written reprimand for her refusal to comply with the district’s policies on diversity and inclusion.
Ms Ricard argues that the process violated her right to free speech by forcing her to use language and implementing policies that breached her personal and religious beliefs.
The claim says Ms Ricard believes God assigns gender at birth and any policy requiring her to use language different from the student’s biological sex “actively violates her religious beliefs”.
Neither the school nor the district had a formal policy on gender pronouns at the time.
Ms Ricard was suspended under the district’s bullying and diversity and inclusion policies.
Six-year-old warned about being ‘transphobic’
Following the incident, the school principal sent staff new training and protocol materials requiring them to use students’ preferred names and pronouns.
Lawyer Mark Edwards said the district would have no comment on the lawsuit.
Ms Ricard’s lawyer, Josh Ney said: “Our suit contends 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.
“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.”
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The school is located in Fort Riley, a US Army base 130 miles west of Kansas City.
Speaking to CNN, Ms Ricard said: “I continue to enjoy teaching my students day in and day out, but the stigma of being officially labelled a “bully” simply for using a student’s enrolled last name has been disheartening.
“I love all my students, but I shouldn’t be forced to contradict my core beliefs in order to teach math in a public school.”
Was Ms Ricard right to refuse to call the child by a different pronoun? Has cancel culture gone too far? Have you witnessed similar incidents in schools attended by your children? Let us know what you think by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!
The UK saw a similar situation earlier this year in Brighton.
Students at multiple schools in the region were informed they were to use “grownups” instead of the more traditional mum and dad.