Alliance Defending Freedom is representing middle school teacher Pamela Ricard of Fort Riley, Kansas. She was reprimanded, then suspended, in April 2021 after she addressed a female student by the student’s legal and enrolled name. But the teacher sued, arguing Geary County public schools violated her First Amendment rights by punishing her for “bullying” and by later refusing her request for a religious accommodation.
ADF attorney Caleb Dalton says Ricard attempted to accommodate the female student, but only to a point, because the teacher felt she was violating her conscience by using the wrong pronouns.
“While [Rikard] was able to use their preferred names,” the attorney explains, “her conscience would not allow her to use preferred pronouns."
The lawsuit names the school board, Superintendent Reginald Eggleston, and school principal Kathleen Brennan as defendants in the case.
In an update to Ricard’s lawsuit, a federal judge this week granted a motion that allows the teacher to communicate with the student’s parents by using the student’s real name and normal pronouns.
"The important part of this case is not only was the school attempting to compel [Rikard] to use pronouns that would violate her conscience,” the ADF attorney explains. “They prohibited her from allowing parents to even find out how their students, their children, identified at school.”
In other words, the math teacher alleges in her lawsuit the school district expects her to deceive parents in order to hide the opposite-sex identity of the female student in her class and others.
The idea that a rural school district in Kansas would hide anything from parents seems like an unlikely scenario but parents across the country are learning school buildings have been taken over by far-left teachers and administrators who view disapproving parents as enemies of progress.
Geary County Schools is located in a rural county of approximately 36,800 Kansans. The school district office is located in Junction City, home to 22,700 residents, but the area is most known for the U.S. Army base there that is headquarters for the 1st Infantry Division.
According to ADF, Rikard was punished last year despite the absence of a school district policy on how to address transgender students. The law firm alleges the school district hurriedly introduced that policy after Rikard was punished for violating a “Bullying by Staff” policy.
ADF also alleges attorneys representing the school district have attempted to reverse the school district’s policies, and misrepresent them, over fear of an unfavorable court ruling.
"We're talking about middle schoolers here,” Dalton says. "So we're pleased that the court resolved this in Pam's favor and specifically held that schools don't have any interest in hiding important information from parents."