Pamela Ricard is a middle school math teacher in Fort Riley, Kansas. She’s also a Christian. In 2021, she was suspended for three days and received a letter of reprimand for not using the “preferred pronouns” of her students. After exhausting all of the required administrative avenues she was required to pursue to appeal her punishment, Ms. Ricard is now suing her school district and her principal for violating her civil rights.
The facts of her case are becoming all too familiar. A school district implements a pronoun policy, sometimes even without following a formal procedure, as in this case, that requires teachers to use the preferred names and pronouns of their students, even if those names and pronouns are contrary to the legal name of the student on their enrollment form.
But that’s not even the whole story. To complete the school’s capitulation to today’s radical gender ideology, the policy includes hiding the student’s “preferences” from their parents unless the student agrees that they be informed.
And Christian teachers seem to be the primary targets of the gender ideologues controlling public schools. Ms. Picard, caught between an onerous policy and her faith, offered a compromise to her principal whereby she would call her students by either their first or last names as they appeared on their enrollment forms and would simply avoid using pronouns altogether.
That offer was unanimously refused by the school board.
So what’s behind it all? According to the Verified Complaint filed by Picard’s attorneys in federal court, the school district’s policy, and the punishment of Ms. Picard, was “all for the purpose of lending credence to cultural ideas Ms. Ricard does not share or wish to advance that are contrary to her core religious beliefs.”
USD 475 Gear County School District is the defendant in the case, along with its board members, superintendent, and the principal of Fort Riley Middle School where Picard teaches.
But this isn’t just about Picard. So, what’s at stake in this case for Christian teachers in public schools? Picard’s lawsuit lays out the faith issues presented by gender identity policies:
Because of her Christian faith, Ms. Ricard has sincerely held religious beliefs that govern her views about human nature, marriage, gender, sexuality, morality, politics, and social issues.
Ms. Ricard’s Christian faith informs her convictions concerning human nature, the purpose and meaning of life, and ethical and moral standards that should govern human conduct.
Ms. Ricard’s faith teaches her that God immutably creates each person as male or female; these two distinct, complementary sexes reflect the image of God; and rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
Ms. Ricard also believes she cannot affirm as true those ideas and concepts that she believes are not true. Doing so, she believes, would violate biblical commands against dishonesty and lying.
Ricard is not the first Christian to intrinsically understand that gender ideology is a direct challenge to biblical truth.
The Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a former board member of Focus on the Family. His podcast, called The Briefing, is extremely popular as well as influential in Christian circles. In his March 17 podcast, Mohler addressed the “mass delusion” of gender ideology in today’s culture.
“As Christians, we need to understand what is being demanded of us,” Mohler said. “It is being demanded that we enter into this exercise in mass delusion, that we deny what is clearly evident in creation, and we deny what is clearly revealed in God’s word; and instead buy into this mass experience in saying, ‘Nope, it’s not what it looks like.’ And indeed, I simply say, all you have to do is look at the photographs and know that’s what we’re being told.”
He goes on:
“Those who will not get with the revolution are described as being unloving. This is a very, very difficult predicament for biblical Christians, because to state the obvious and the profound biblical responsibility, we simply can’t join this revolution.
“We join this revolution, and we are denying what God has revealed in Scripture and in creation. The consequences of that are just as devastating as the apostle Paul described in Romans 1, with eternal consequences.
“And by the way, let’s understand that this gets down to the character of God. … Either God is good, or he isn’t. Either God is infinitely good, or we are doomed. Either God’s creation is good because he declared it to be good, including making human beings as male and as female. He either made creation faulty, or he didn’t.
“He either meant what he tells in in his Word, or he didn’t.”
Of course, this issue of gender identity and preferred pronouns is not just a concern for Christians. Professor Jordan Peterson famously got into hot water with his peers at the University of Toronto some years ago for refusing to submit to the compelled speech codes of gender pronoun policies.
It really is a commonsense issue about reality vs. non-reality, but for Christians it takes on an added dimension.
Ms. Picard is taking a stand for the eternal truth of God’s word. Let’s pray she is vindicated in the courts.
Her case is Ricard v. USD 475 Gear County Schools.
Photo from Shutterstock.