Christian teacher suspended for refusing to use transgender student's preferred pronouns settles court case
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Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Geary County Schools
A Christian teacher in the US has been awarded $95,000 in damages after previously being suspended from her job for refusing to use a transgender student's chosen pronouns.
Kansas-native Pamela Ricard invoked the First Amendment to win her case, which safeguards freedom of speech in America.
The maths teacher was initially suspended from Fort Riley Middle School by the local district back in April 2021, but she would go on to argue that the punishment infringed upon her religious freedom.
The 58-year-old first clashed with the Geary County School District after she referred to a student as 'miss', despite being told to use he/him pronouns when talking to him.
For this, Ricard was suspected for three days, and received a reprimand from the school.
She had previously taken issue with the school's diversity and equity training that encouraged teachers to refer to students by their preferred names and pronouns.
However, once again Ricard cited her Christian faith as a reason for not following suit, claiming it violated her religious beliefs.
"Ms. Ricard is a Christian and holds sincere religious beliefs consistent with the traditional Christian and biblical understanding of the human person and biological sex," her legal complaint read.
She received support from non-profit legal group 'Alliance Defending Freedom' in her suit against the district, as well as attorney's from Krieghauser Ney Law Group.
Joshua Ney, a partner at the firm, said of the settlement: "This case provides straightforward lessons for Kansas school boards: Schools shouldn't lie to parents and teachers don't forfeit their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door."
Her complaint directly cited religious freedom as a reason for her refusal to follow the school's guidelines.
It read as follows: "Ms. Ricard believes that God created human beings as either male or female, that this sex is fixed in each person from the moment of conception, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of an individual person's feelings, desires, or preferences.
"Any policy that requires Ms. Ricard to refer to a student by a gendered, non-binary, or plural pronoun (e.g., he/him, she/her, they/them, zhe/zher, etc.) or salutation (Mr., Miss, Ms.) or other gendered language that is different from the student's biological sex actively violates Ms. Ricard's religious beliefs."
The incident at Fort Riley Middle School is far from an isolated one, as transgender rights have become the latest political football in America's increasingly fraught culture war.
Just last year, a transgender high school student won a six-year legal battle against his school's district thanks to a US Supreme Court decision that went in his favour.
The individual had previously been barred from using the bathroom corresponding with his gender identity, for which the Gloucester County School Board were deemed to have acted unlawfully.
While this decision could set a defining legal precedent for years to come, so to could Ricard's settlement on the basis of religious freedom.
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