The effort to accommodate students who identify as transgender appears to have crossed the line into actively deceiving parents, at least in one Kansas school district.
Pamela Ricard, who retired from her position as a teacher in Geary County earlier this year, took the school district to court over allegations that administrators encouraged her to use a child’s preferred name and pronouns during the school day but refer to a legal name and biological gender when speaking to the student’s parents.
She argued that such duplicitous behavior violated her religious beliefs and secured legal representation from the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Earlier this week, the district agreed to settle the case for a reported $95,000 and Ricard dropped the lawsuit. Although the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, ADF attorneys clearly viewed the result as a victory for their client.
Senior counsel Tyson Langhofer affirmed that school administrations should never “force teachers to willfully deceive parents or engage in any speech that violates their deeply held religious beliefs.
He expressed satisfaction in the terms of the settlement and said that the outcome should “encourage school districts across the country to support the constitutionally protected freedom of teachers to teach and communicate honestly with both children and parents.”
As ADF attorney Joshua Ney noted, the school district defended its actions by arguing “that a teacher should completely avoid using a child’s name during a parent-teacher conference in order to hide new names and genders being used by the school for a child in a classroom.”
In addition to a partial victory in court earlier this year, this week’s settlement should be seen as a victory for truth, Ney explained, adding: “Absurdity and deception has its limits, especially in federal court. I’m glad the case clarifies the financial stakes for school boards if they attempt to force teachers to lie to parents about their students.”
Pamela Ricard taught math at Fort Riley Middle School, where she had two transgender students in her classroom. She said that using their preferred pronouns would violate her religious beliefs.
— Jason Tidd (@Jason_Tidd) August 31, 2022
In addition to the financial settlement, the district has also rolled back its controversial policy regarding the use of different pronouns and names in class and in conversations with parents.
Ricard retired from Fort Riley Middle School earlier this month, several months after administrators placed her on suspension for an apparent violation of the school’s bullying policy. At the time of her retirement, however, the settlement indicated that she “was in good standing without any disciplinary actions against her.”