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Teacher Who Sued School District After Deadnaming Student Gets $95K

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A Kansas court ruled that a school must pay a teacher $95,000 after she was suspended for refusing to call a student by their preferred pronouns and name.

An educator in Kansas who sued her school district for suspending her for refusing to use a student's preferred pronouns reached a settlement on Wednesday with the school district. The teacher will receive $95,000 in damages due to the lawsuit.

After being counseled and suspended for three days by Geary County Schools last year, Pamela Ricard sued the district for reprimanding her over calling a student assigned female at birth by their legal and enrolled last names, NBC News reports.

According to the lawsuit, a school counselor at Fort Riley Middle School informed Ricard that the student preferred an alternate first name and that a classmate recommended he/him pronouns.

However, to avoid using the student's preferred first name, Ricard began addressing the student as "miss," using the student's last name. According to Ricard, addressing the student as "Miss (last name)" reflected Ricard's religious convictions while respecting the student.

At the time, the district did not have a formal policy regarding students' preferred names or pronouns, but she was disciplined under "generic policies" regarding bullying, the lawsuit stated.

After Ricard was suspended, the district began implementing a policy requiring employees to use the pronouns that the individual requested to communicate with them.

Additionally, the district instructed its staff not to disclose the student's preferred name or pronoun to their parents without the student's consent to protect their privacy.

According to her lawyers, the policies violated Ricard's conscience, NBC News noted.

Legal representatives at Alliance Defending Freedom said the settlement represents a victory for free speech in public schools. ADF describes itself as advocating for people's right to express their faith freely.

However, due to its stances on LGBTQ+ rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Alliance Defending Freedom as a "hate group."

Attorney Joshua Ney, who represents the ADF, is happy with the outcome, saying, "Absurdity and deception has its limits, especially in federal court."

He concluded, "I'm glad the case clarifies the financial stakes for school boards if they attempt to force teachers to lie to parents about their students."

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