Kansas teacher wins lawsuit over trans naming dispute

Source: Hot Air

In Geary County, Kansas, a public school math teacher named Pamela Ricard got into some hot water a couple of years ago. The administration at the school where she worked was attempting to force her to address a transgender student by the boy’s new name and pronouns. This didn’t sit well with Ricard, but she sought some sort of compromise that could satisfy everyone. Unfortunately, the school’s policy regarding how she was supposed to treat the situation when meeting with the student’s parents was a bridge too far and she refused to comply. This led to her termination. A lawsuit ensued, and this week a court agreed that Ricard’s rights had been violated and the school owed her compensatory payments. (Alliance Defending Freedom)

In a victory for free speech at public schools, Fort Riley Middle School officials have agreed to pay $95,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees for violating a math teacher’s First Amendment rights when they reprimanded and suspended her for addressing a student by the student’s legal and enrolled name and forced her to conceal the student’s social transition from the student’s parents. Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and Kriegshauser Ney Law Group represented Pamela Ricard in her lawsuit against school officials.

“No school district should ever force teachers to willfully deceive parents or engage in any speech that violates their deeply held religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “We’re pleased to settle this case favorably on behalf of Pam, and we hope that it will encourage school districts across the country to support the constitutionally protected freedom of teachers to teach and communicate honestly with both children and parents.”

The student in question can not be identified because of their age, of course, but he was apparently a boy who was “transitioning” to be a girl with the blessing of the school. He had selected a new female first name and the school was insisting that Pamela Ricard address him by that name. The compromise she arrived at was to address the student in class as “Miss [Surname]” rather than using either the boy’s original first name or the new one. And saying “Miss,” was clearly a nod toward at least trying to be supportive.

But when it came time for parent-teacher meetings, Ricard was pushed past the brink. School administrators, while insisting she use the new names in the classroom, told her that she would have to refer to the student by his original name and pronouns when speaking to his parents. They were obviously forcing her to lie and prevent the parents from learning about what was going on with their son’s “gender journey” inside the public school.

She refused and was let go, leading to the lawsuit we’re discussing today. I’m still not entirely sure if there is a religious freedom angle to this case, as I’ve written here in the past. The established churches don’t have any sort of firm policy regarding gender identity questions that I’m aware of. But the school administrators were definitely engaging in unprofessional and even dangerous behavior.

The public schools are charged with ensuring the welfare of the children in their care along with providing them with a basic education. But deeper questions regarding the child’s welfare ultimately rest on the shoulders of the parents or guardians. This is something of a civil war that’s taking place across the country at the moment, as progressive teachers and school administrations work to shut out parents from critical information and decisions regarding their children’s development. Instructing a teacher to knowingly lie to parents about something as profoundly important as a decision to “change genders” is unconscionable.

Pamela Ricard probably deserved a lot more than $95,000 dollars, but at least she obtained some satisfaction regarding the proper way to do her job. Perhaps this lawsuit will send a warning signal to other school districts around the country that are engaging in similar deceptive practices. And, if we’re lucky, it will also inform teachers who don’t support this type of dishonest behavior that they have options, even if it sets back their careers.