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Kansas Teacher Terminated After Using Inappropriate Gender Pronouns

May 10th, 2022

A challenge was recently made by a group of parents to a California ethnic studies model curriculum that suggests students engage in an Aztec prayer.
A teacher in Kansas was recently suspended after she declined to call a student by their preferred first name and gender pronouns.

A school instructor in Kansas was recently suspended after she declined to call a student by their preferred gender pronouns. The instructor argues that calling the student by their preferred gender pronoun would have violated her Christian beliefs. More specifically, the teacher’s federal lawsuit claims that the school district violated her constitutional rights and failed to meet her sincerely held religious beliefs that are consistent with Christian viewpoints.

How the Gender Pronouns Case Arose

The teacher taught at the school beginning in 2005. The teacher was suspended in 2020 because she addressed a “biologically female” student as a miss instead of using the student’s chosen first name. The teacher argues that addressing students as ‘miss’ respected the student while also upholding the teacher’s religious viewpoints. The student in question chose a first name that was unique from his legal and enrolled name. The student never instructed the teacher about this preference, but a classmate informed the teacher that the student preferred he/him gender pronouns.

The teacher’s complaint claims that God assigns gender at birth and that any policy ordering a teacher to use a language different from the student’s biological sex constitutes an active violation of the teacher’s religious beliefs.

Response to the Lawsuit

Both the school and the school district lacked a policy addressing gender pronouns when the offense occurred. The teacher, however, was suspended under the school’s bullying and diversity regulations. Then, a week after the teacher’s suspension, the school’s principal equipped staff with training and materials that required teachers to use students’ preferred names and gender pronouns.

An attorney on behalf of the school district, which is located several miles from Fort Riley Army base, has stated that they have no comment on the matter.

During an appeal, the teacher requested that a religious exemption apply to the policy. The teacher’s beliefs were not accommodated, though. The district is still threatening to discipline the teacher and might even terminate her. 

The school district’s Board recently approved a policy requiring the student’s preferred name and pronouns to be used. Meanwhile, the teacher has commented that she enjoys teaching her students but has been disheartened by being labeled a bully because she used an inappropriate name for a student.

What Lies Ahead

The teacher is now pursuing legal action against the school board in addition to several other school supervisory groups. The lawsuit claimed that actions by the district violated the teacher’s constitutional right to free speech as well as the free exercise of religion, due process, and equal protection. The teacher is requesting that her disciplinary record ultimately be cleared and that she be granted nominal damages.

Documenting Religious Rights in the US

Many religious rights in this country originate from documents like the U.S. Constitution. Each month, however, various cases test the boundaries of these religious rights. The Universal Church’s blog documents cases in a way that can be easily understood by readers and examines each opposing viewpoint.

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