A Kansas teacher won $95,000 from a public school district after being suspended for refusing to comply with the district’s preferred pronoun guidance, according to a statement from the educator’s legal team.
Pam Ricards filed a lawsuit against the USD 475 Geary County School District and Fort Riley Middle School after she was temporarily suspended for using the term “Ms.” to refer to a biologically female student. The teacher received $95,000 during the arbitration process between the school and her legal team Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which then dropped the lawsuit.
Ricard argued the school district and administrators forced her to use students’ preferred pronouns in the classroom, which violated her religious beliefs. She also claimed that educators could not use students’ preferred pronouns when speaking to parents.
“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. “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.”
Ricard received a three-day suspension and a formal reprimand in April 2021 for addressing a biological female with the suffix “Ms.” and the student’s legal last name. Ricard said in litigation she received an email from the school’s counselor ordering her to use “he/him” pronouns to describe the biological female, although the student never made a direct request.
The school suspended Ricard under its “Bullying by Staff” policy. (RELATED: Kansas Teacher Sues After Being Suspended, Refusing To Comply With Preferred Pronoun Guidance)
After Ricard returned from suspension, the school’s principal sent staff a training document on “Gender Identity and Expression” with explicit guidance on the “Use of Preferred Names and Pronouns.”
“The new training materials and protocol mandated that teachers use students’ preferred names and that failure to do so would constitute a discriminatory act subject to employee discipline,” Ricard’s complaint reads.