A Kansas teacher will receive $95,000 from her ex-employer after the school suspended her for refusing to use a student's preferred name and pronouns.
Pamela Ricard, formerly of Fort Riley Middle School, says doing so would have violated her Christian beliefs.
Ricard sought a religious accommodation to avoid using the student's preferred pronouns.
A former teacher in Kansas will get $95,000 in a settlement after she was suspended for refusing to use a student's preferred name and pronouns.
Pamela Ricard — a former math strategies elective teacher at Fort Riley Middle School in Fort Riley, Kansas who retired in May, according to the school website — sued Geary County Schools in March over her suspension. The school agreed to pay her $95,000 in damages and attorneys' fees, and the lawsuit was dismissed on Wednesday.
According to the complaint, Ricard was suspended for three days and given a formal written reprimand after referring to a student by his legal name. However, the student, whose biological sex is female, had a different preferred name and uses he/him pronouns.
Research has shown misgendering or deadnaming transgender or nonbinary people can have harmful effects on mental health.
Upon returning from her three-day suspension, Ricard appealed the disciplinary action with the school board and superintendent. She asked for, and was denied, a religious accommodation that would have allowed her to avoid using the student's preferred name and pronouns.
"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," the complaint reads. "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."
Her lawyers argued that referring to the student by his preferred name and pronouns "violates Ms. Ricard's conscience" and "her First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion."
As part of the settlement, school officials agreed to issue a statement saying Ricard was in good standing when she retired, without any disciplinary actions against her.
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