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A federal court ruled this week that a Kansas teacher is able to communicate honestly with parents of her transgender students using their preferred name, when different than their given name, in line with her Christian beliefs. School policy currently mandates teachers use preferred names and pronouns of students, and hide that information from parents unless the student consents.
Fort Riley, Kansas middle school teacher Pamela Ricard last year was reprimanded and suspended from school for “declining to use a name for a student that was inconsistent with the student’s biological sex.”
Tyson Langhofer, Senior Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, told Fox News Digital prior to Ricard being punished, there was no written policy on names and pronouns. However, after her reprimand, the school implemented several policies on how teachers should address students as well as how they should communicate with parents.
Protestors in support of transgender rights rally outside the Alabama State House in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
After being reprimanded, Ricard sued the school, alleging at the policies violated her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
The court ruled this week that the school could not punish Ricard for communicating with parents using the preferred name of students, even if that name was different than the student’s legal name.
Langhofer said they are working to get the school to adopt a new policy which would “respect the rights of students, parents and teachers.”
“Parents… believe school officials should work alongside parents to assist in educating children,” he said.
“Geary County has a policy that parents are full partners in education, and yet they’re hiding this very important information from them, and that’s not right. Parents shouldn’t be left in the dark when it comes to decisions that involve the well-being of their own children,” Langhofer added.
Ricard said the policy she would like implemented at the school would “protect all students, teachers, and parents, and [does not] deceive the parents or harm the students.”
The specific policy would say teachers who do not want to be compelled to use pronouns inconsistent with biological sex can avoid doing so by referring to students by the student’s preferred name, and also using the preferred name when communicating with parents.
Langhofer called it an accommodation that “respects everybody’s rights.”
“Parents are aware of what’s going on, students are called by their preferred names and teachers aren’t being compelled to say something that they think is untrue,” he added.
Ricard added solving these issues in education required all parties to be “open and honest” with each other.
“We need to be open and honest, have the students be open and honest with their parents and teachers,” Ricard said. “The parents are there to support us, we’re here to support the parents, the students. You have to have that open relationship for all of it to work together.”