Kansas Teacher Sues For Right To Misgender Trans Kids As Jesus Intended
We hesitate to criticize educators at a moment when the Right is painting a target on the back of American teachers. Hardly a day passes without some monstrosity of a bill being enacted allowing parents to sue teachers for admitting that slavery existed, or the Holocaust was bad, or Black people still suffer under systemic racism.
But a federal lawsuit in Kansas filed by a snowflake teacher who's been assaulted in her religious fee fees by having to address students by their preferred pronouns is just too stupid not to call out. Particularly since we now have Justice Amy Coney Barrett sitting in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat and Justice Neil Gorsuch looking ever more inclined to allow religious people to discriminate in the name of liberty.
Middle school math teacher Pamela Ricard is very mad at pronouns. She likes Jesus and whole numbers. She does not like fractions, or polynomials, or basic human decency, or decaf coffee (allegedly).
Ms. Ricard is a Christian and holds sincere religious beliefs consistent with the traditional Christian and biblical understanding of the human person and biological sex. Ms. Ricard believes that God created human beings as either male or female, that this sex is fixed in each person from the moment of conception, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of an individual person’s feelings, desires, or preferences. Any policy that requires Ms. Ricard to refer to a student by a gendered, non-binary, or plural pronoun (e.g., he/him, she/her, they/them, zhe/zher, etc.) or salutation (Mr., Miss, Ms.) or other gendered language that is different from the student’s biological sex actively violates Ms. Ricard’s religious beliefs.
Last year Ricard was disciplined because she refused to address students by their preferred pronouns and was denied an accommodation by the school when she proposed calling each student by their last name. So she filed this dumb lawsuit, in which she grossly mischaracterized the First Amendment. Although she managed not to misgender it, so, thank God for small favors.
Ricard claims that the school's policy requiring teacher to address students by their preferred names and pronouns is a gross attack on her freedom of speech and religion; that disciplining her for refusing to comply with it violates her due process rights; and that the school breached its contract with her by making her not humiliate trans students. She even has the nerve to claim that forcing her to treat trans girls and boys the same way she treats their cis peers violates her Equal Protection rights — which is pretty much the definition of chutzpah.
To Secretary Miguel Cardona's credit, the Biden Department of Education has been really clear that it will treat discrimination against trans students as illegal gender discrimination. And indeed this is consonant with the 2020 Supreme Court holding in Bostock v. Clayton County that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on discrimination on the basis of sex. Presumably if trans kids are entitled to use the right bathroom, they're entitled to be addressed by the appropriate pronouns.
Dunno if you've noticed, but conservatives are wilding out lately, passing all kinds of insane gay- and trans-bashing bills as part of their never-ending culture war. The judge hearing Picard's case is a Trump appointee, although not noticeably insane. But there's a more than even chance that one of these cases is going to wind up in front of one of the super gross bigots Trump and McConnell jammed through, and that has the potential to be very, very bad.
[Ricard v. USD 475 Geary County, KS School Board, Docket via Court Listener]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.