Can a public school teacher call his/her students any name they wish? (actual court case)

Not all bigots are stupid and once again, the mantle of religion is used for their purpose.

I’d love it if the Muslim students (both of them) demand she wear a burka because the sight of her bare face demeans their religion.

I’d guess that 90-95% of the time, pronoun preference is handled quite easily, with the kid expressing a preference and the teacher agreeing to it. No worries, no problem, no press. Why this is news isn’t because the kid has a pronoun preference, it’s because the teacher is climbing up on the cross and playing martyr rather than being a kind, thoughtful human being. It is also news because this is but one facet of the right wing’s attack against transgendered students. The right wing has made its bones selling victimhood to whites and pandering to the hatred of “the other”. Their current culture war against transgendered kids is just the next step in their long march of discrimination, from race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, they’ve now moved to gender identity. That’s why it’s news.

I really don’t think “don’t be an asshole to a kid” is an “accommodation”.

Not your ox being gored, I guess. This transgendered hate is much more a thing for me because this effects someone I love dearly, so maybe I’m over-sensitive. But I really don’t see the “don’t be an asshole to children” pronoun preference policy as a huge burden whatsoever.

Even assuming the parents are accepting of their child’s gender identity, wouldn’t this require a legal name change? That costs a lot of money and time that the parents may not necessarily have.

Cite: My sister, who has come out as non-binary (but still uses she/her pronouns), and wants to change her name but can’t because she works a minimum-wage job.

ETA: Response to @Dinsdale withdrawn. I’ll find a more constructive way of saying what I want to say.

IANAL but I don’t think it’s the student who’s the issue. The school issued this policy.

So is telling employees how they address people something an employer can do? I’d say yes.

I don’t feel there is any recognized religious exemption to this.

What happens if a student claims that it is his religious belief that all women are subordinate to men and therefore all female teachers must address him as Sir while he will refer to them as Woman?

Not to use the slippery slope argument, but what happens when a student decides it’s his moral obligation under the Bible to stone a girl for premarital sex?

From my research paper for English 111 from Paul D. Camp Community College back in 2014, about a year before all these anti-transgender laws really started blowing up across the country:

It is saddening that many Christians try to use the Word of God to deny freedom to their fellow citizens. If they must rely on the Bible, they should consider Jesus’ message of love. Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, people considered the lowest of the low. He refused to condemn a woman accused of adultery, saying, “Let any of you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7). And most importantly, “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). Using the Bible to condemn a group of people, and attempt to deny them equal rights, goes against everything Jesus taught, and everything Christians claim to believe in.
Furthermore, for those who insist on clinging to their dogmatic views of right and wrong, it could be argued that religious liberty is the last cry of the desperate. Because someone’s religious beliefs are whatever that person says they are, it is impossible to enact protections against everyone’s religious freedoms in absolutely every circumstance.

–“Living It Every Day: Righting Society’s Wrongs Against Transgender People”, by (name redacted) April 17, 2014

We would almost certainly say that, the First Amendment notwithstanding, a public school has the ability to regulate/restrict speech by students that would disrupt the orderly operation/discipline of the school.

But this is the teacher that’s suing, not the pupil or their parent. I realize forcing someone to remove their kippah or headscarf would be about as fundamental to freedom of religion as it gets in a modern democracy. But this would like a teacher suing because a school allowed head scarfs.

Agreed. Although I’m not sure that a parent’s input is necessarily required.

A possible solution to this is to make the alternate name process slightly more cumbersome, possibly requiring the student to file a form and maybe limiting things to one intra-academic year change per year.

In general, it’s going to be very hard to determine who is the bad actor in marginal cases, so a hardline policy like this is never going to be perfect, but it might be workable.

Lord, that would be annoying. For every class? I go by my nickname, which is a perfectly normal last name, instead of my given name, which I hate. My parents only called me by my given name when they were upset with me.

can the state tell the teacher they cannot call the student by any name they want?

And as the title alludes to a court case that this is a legal and not ethical question dealing with
limits to teacher freedom of speech
is there a safe harbor to using the student’s legal name
what limit or proof should there be to “I claim religious freedom.”

As for the last one, I think there should be some standard that the person needs to show how the policy interferes with their practice of their religious belief. I know of at least three people that claimed “religious exemption” that was in reality “I don’t want to be vaccinated”

As for the claim that the district can enforce a policy like this, Little Nemo claims yes but the district as an arm of the government it may be different for them than a private company. I also cannot help thinking that the Epperson decision enters into this although I’m not sure how.

Let’s throw one more variable in the ethics. Should it make a difference if it a high school student, especially junior or senior, developing awareness of their gender-identity as opposed to a primary (grades 1 - 3) student?

I came across an article a few years back about a boy who decided he wanted to become a female and wanted the school to change his name. The boy can be whatever they wants but I feel like they’re bullying the school system by demanding they change his record.

I’ve long thought that it should, but in talking about it with gay and trans adults, almost all of them knew that they were gay or trans from early childhood, and nothing really changed in that self-perception through puberty.

Do a lot of gay people/children wish to be called names other than their birth names? I’m neither gay nor trans/non-binary, but I thought the terms described quite different situations.

I’m not able to recall any of my gay friends/acquaintances using names that are different from their biological sex.

I readily admit to being FAR from an expert. I have a very close friend who is the faculty sponsor for a HS PRISM group. She is only one person (and heterosexual at that). But her impression is that very few of the nonbinary/transgendered/fluid students she has encountered over the years are truly demonstrating mindsets/behaviors that will be lifelong.

That isn’t to say we oughtn’t tolerate/encourage considerable exploration among youth, and show compassion to those who do not conform. But I also think it is appropriate to have some boundaries, and let the kids realize that they are free to not conform to societal norms, but shouldn’t expect the bulk of society to celebrate your nonconformity - or to conform themselves to make you happy/comfortable.

Hell, my kids are at least as hardcore non theists as I am. But from a very early age, we taught them that they have to decide when/where to express their lack of belief, and to not be surprised at the reactions they receive. So long as they have places in which their unconventional beliefs/behaviors are tolerated and celebrated, part of growing up is realizing the world really doesn’t give a damn about what a special flower you are.

Yes, they’re different situations. The point is that many people who are not typical know it from early childhood.

It’s just an extra data point. If people can accept that gay folk know that they’re gay early on, then people ought to be able to accept that transpeople know that they’re trans even as children.

People should be called what they want to be called. Official records are one thing, but in day-to-day personal interactions, you really can’t go wrong following that rule.

(Pause for Dopers to come up with ridiculous hypotheticals… “What if someone insists that you call him “Get on the floor, I have a gun!” and it must be pronounced at the top of your lungs?”)

It amazes me that there are people who think that recognizing this simple principle will lead to abuses like teachers being fired for forgetting that one of their 200 students changed their pronouns last weekend.

Why does it matter that it’s the teacher? The teacher is claiming that the school policy (which regulates the teacher’s behavior) violates her religious freedoms. She’s not arguing (at least per the article the OP) that the school’s toleration of student’s gender identity/expression violates her freedoms, but that the requiring her to address them in a certain way does.

Without commenting on the merits of any claim, the proper analogy is a teacher suing a school, that has a “no headwear for staff” policy, because he wants to wear a dastar or a colander. Win or lose, comparable or not, these are not unfamiliar issues.

If I’m a married lady and I want people to now call me Mrs. Jones instead of Ms. Smith as I was before, why is it a bigger problem to call me Janice instead of Jerome? (Obviously getting married is quite different than transitioning, but the amount of “disruption” for other people would seem to be the same.)