A federal judge has granted a temporary order in the case of a Kansas teacher suing her school district over policies requiring teachers to use the preferred names and pronouns of trans-identified students and hide those preferences from parents.
U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter partially granted a preliminary injunction on behalf of Fort Riley Middle School teacher Pamela Ricard preventing Geary County Schools Unified School District 475 from disciplining her for referring to a student’s preferred name and pronouns in her communications with a trans-identified student’s parents “within the regular course of her duties.”
The injunction lasts until next Wednesday or “at the conclusion of Plaintiff’s contractual responsibilities to the District, whichever is later.” The court stated that the motion was issued in light of the fact that the teacher doesn’t plan to communicate with a parent to disclose a student’s preferred name and pronouns.
Ricard sued Geary County Schools Unified School District 475 after being suspended in April 2021 for three days and given a reprimand because she called a biologically female student by her legal name and used female pronouns.
Ricard’s lawsuit names school district board members, Superintendent Reginald Eggleston and Fort Riley Principal Kathleen Brennan.
Teeter, a Trump appointee, found that Ricard “is likely to succeed on her free exercise claim for the Communication with Parent Policy” but denied a preliminary injunction to Ricard’s claims against the school district policy requiring teachers to use preferred names and pronouns in class.
Teeter concluded that Ricard could still be punished under the Communication with Parents Policy, which “prohibits employees from revealing to parents that a student has requested use of a preferred name or different set of pronouns at school” except under certain circumstances.
She wrote that while both parties reached a “détente” regarding the Preferred Names and Pronouns Policy, they are “very much at odds over the Communication with Parents Policy and the potential for disciplinary action should Plaintiff violate it.” The policy prohibits employees from revealing to parents that a student has requested use of a preferred name or different set of pronouns at school “unless the student requests the administration or a counselor to do so, per Federal FERPA guidance.”
“Defendants are ENJOINED from disciplining Plaintiff for referring to a student by the student’s preferred name and pronouns in her communications with the student’s parents within the regular course of her duties,” ruled Teeter.
“The Court relies on Plaintiff’s statements that she does not intend to communicate with a parent for the sole purpose of disclosing a student’s preferred name and pronouns.”
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