Kansas teacher who refused to use trans student’s pronouns wins $95K in settlement

A recently retired Kansas teacher who refused to use a transgender student’s pronouns was awarded $95,000 as part of a settlement with her former employers.

Pamela Ricard, a former math teacher at Fort Riley Middle School, sued Geary County Schools earlier this year arguing that the school’s LGBTQ anti-discrimination policies conflicted with her Christian beliefs.

The school, which is located at a U.S. Army base some 130 miles west of Kansas City, has a number of policies that are in place to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination.

Ricard was suspended in April 2021 for refusing to use a student’s chosen name or refer to him by pronouns that align with his gender identity.

She sued the school district in March claiming that she was reprimanded for addressing the student by his “legal and enrolled last name.”

Attorneys for Ricard announced Wednesday that school officials had agreed to pay $95,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees for “violating a math teacher’s First Amendment rights.”

Ricard, who had taught at the school since 2005, was represented by the Christian conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, a prominent anti-LGBTQ legal advocacy organization that has been designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The announcement comes just months after a federal judge ruled that Ricard couldn’t be disciplined for outing trans students to their parents or legal guardians.

Following a court hearing on May 6, U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter issued a preliminary injunction blocking the school from disciplining Ricard if she revealed trans students’ chosen names and pronouns when communicating with their parents.

Before retiring in May, Ricard had two transgender students in her class, and they hadn’t authorized the district to disclose their names and pronouns to their parents.

According to court documents, the teacher avoided using pronouns with the students and used their chosen names in class. However, since she had used the students’ legal names and pronouns in correspondence with their parents, she felt that she wasn’t being honest.

“Plaintiff believes that addressing students one way at school and a different way when speaking to their parents is dishonest,” the opinion, written by the Donald Trump-nominated judge, stated. “Being dishonest violates her sincere religious beliefs.”

As part of the settlement, school officials agreed to issue a statement acknowledging that the teacher was in good standing without any disciplinary actions against her at the time of her retirement.

On Wednesday, Ricard’s attorneys’ filed a dismissal of the case.