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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A student teacher is suing the Fort Osage School District, alleging the district rejected them from a job for using non-binary pronouns for students who requested it.

The lawsuit claims the student teacher, who is also non-binary, did just as they were taught to do at college.

The student teacher also argues using those pronouns is protected under the First Amendment.

The student teacher is suing for compensatory and punitive damages.

The student teacher’s attorney, Doug Schreiner, sent this statement to FOX4:

“Previous cases have largely involved teachers who refused requests from students to use gender neutral pronouns. This case presents the opposite situation.

“Olivia, a student teacher, was punished for stating their own preferred pronouns and honoring the requests of several students to use gender neutral pronouns.

“We believe the school district’s actions silenced Olivia’s right to freely express their gender identity, those of their students, and perhaps most importantly, are not conducive to a safe and positive learning environment.”

The district sent the following statement to FOX4 about the lawsuit:

“The complaint in this matter contains numerous inaccuracies and mistruths — both as to individuals mentioned and as to the Fort Osage R-1 School District. We will vigorously defend against this lawsuit and address the substance of those inaccuracies and mistruths in our pleadings.

“The district is an equal opportunity employer and makes decisions about the hiring of teachers based on their ability to serve our students, regardless of their gender or gender identity.”

In response to the district’s statement, Schreiner said the allegations are based on documents, text messages and/or firsthand accounts.

“We look forward to proving these facts at trial,” he told FOX4.