A Kansas teacher who sued the school district that fired her for not using a student’s preferred pronouns has reached a settlement and will get $95,000, her lawyers said Wednesday.
Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, which says it fights “for the right of people to live out their faith freely,” called the settlement “a victory for free speech in public schools.” Because of its views on LGBTQ rights, the Alliance Defending Freedom is called a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Pamela Ricard sued Geary County Schools in March, saying that she was reprimanded and suspended for three days last year “for calling a biologically female student by the student’s legal and enrolled the last name.”
The lawsuit said that a school counselor at Fort Riley Middle School told Ricard that the student wanted a different first name and that a classmate told Ricard that the student wished to he/him pronouns.
Ricard stopped calling the student by her preferred first name and started calling her “miss” and her last name instead. The lawsuit said that Ricard thought that calling the student “Miss (legal/enrolled the last name)” showed respect for the student and kept with Ricard’s religious beliefs.
At the time Ms. Ricard was suspended, the district did not have a “formal policy regarding student preferred name and pronoun use.” Instead, she was punished “under generic school district policies related to bullying by staff,” according to the lawsuit.
A week after Ricard returned from her suspension, the district put in place a policy that said, “Employees should be aware of and try to use the pronouns a person asks to be known by.”