One teacher lands a payday at the expense of LGBTQ+ protections

A retired educator from a Kansas middle school was awarded $95,000 after refusing to address one of her students by their chosen name.

The U.S. Department of Education proposed expanding Title IX protections in June to strengthen protections for LGBTQI+ students who face discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

“We welcome public comment on these critical regulations so we can further the Biden-Harris Administration’s mission of creating educational environments free from sex discrimination and sexual violence,” said U.S. Secretary Miguel Cardona.

It’s now August, the school year has just begun, and the cultural war is still at its height.

Florida schools are learning how to navigate under Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill, formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law.

“As a father and as Secretary of Education, I am deeply disheartened that the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law went into effect in Florida today and I worry about its effects on young people and families in the state,” said Cardona in a statement in July.

Linn-Mar schools in Iowa are facing a lawsuit from conservative activists over their new gender identity policy that aims to keep transgender students’ pronouns private at school.

Most recently, one former teacher at Fort Riley Middle School in Kansas refused to acknowledge a student’s chosen name—and was awarded a very pretty penny.

More from DA: Bullies do this more often than fighting or teasing. This is how leaders can help stop it.

Pamela Richard, a retired math teacher, was reprimanded and suspended in April 2021 by school officials after she addressed one of her students by their birth-given name instead of their chosen name.

Additionally, a school policy prohibited her from disclosing her student’s social transition to their parents. Richard filed a lawsuit against the school arguing that the policy is a violation of her First Amendment Rights. She was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit legal organization, and the Kriegshauser Ney Law Group.

“At no point has the student in question directly asked Ms. Richard to call the student by an alternate preferred first name, last name, or pronouns different from the information contained in the student’s enrollment records,” the lawsuit alleges. Additionally, the school’s counselor notified Richard of the student’s new preferred first name in the email, but referred to the student as “she,” consistent with the student’s biological sex, according to the document.

This week, it was announced that the two parties agreed on a settlement in favor of Richard for $95,000.

“No school district should ever force teachers to willfully deceive parents or engage in any speech that violates their deeply held religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, in a statement.

“We’re pleased to settle this case favorably on behalf of Pam, and we hope that it will encourage school districts across the country to support the constitutionally protected freedom of teachers to teach and communicate honestly with both children and parents.”

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

Most Popular