College professor rebuked for using masculine pronouns on transgender student gets legal support.


An Ohio philosophy professor, Nicholas Meriwether, who declined using feminine pronouns to address a transgender student and was warned by his school has gotten legal support. After Shawnee State University issued a written warning to Prof. Meriwether over his conduct, a judged has ruled in his favor stating that his First Amendment rights were violated by the school.

Also, the ruling gives the professor the right to sue the school for damages. On Friday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Prof. Nicholas Meriwether's freedom of religion and speech were violated by Shawnee State University when they punished him for refusing to obey rules that compel him to address students on their own terms.

In 2016, Prof. Meriwether was rebuked after a transgender student, Jane Doe, lamented that she was addressed with 'Mr.' instead of 'Ms.' in class. Likewise, she complained that despite her desire to be regarded as a woman, she was treated like other biological male person.

In response, the professor who is a devout Christian stated that the rules did not reveal 'biological reality' and it goes against his religious beliefs. Consequently, his action got him a written warning. He was also informed that for violating the school’s nondiscrimination policy, he could be suspended without pay or even sacked.

Amul Thapar, a Trump-appointed Circuit Judge wrote for a three-judge panel, saying that Meriwether was only speaking on a 'hotly contested' issue that concerns the public - if one's sex can be changed. 

In addition, the judge said that the Portsmouth-based College did not tender any evidence that Meriwether's choice to use masculine pronouns instead of feminine disturbed his job. Also, there was no proof that the professor’s action hindered the operations of the school or stopped the student - Jane Doe, who got a high grade, from benefiting educationally.

‘'If professors lacked free-speech protections when teaching, a university would wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity. A university president could require a pacifist to declare that war is just, a civil rights icon to condemn the Freedom Riders, a believer to deny the existence of God, or a Soviet to address his students as 'comrades. That cannot be,’’ Thapar said.

When Meriwether sent the lawsuit in February 2020 to a Cincinnati judge, it was dismissed. However, various interest groups have submitted briefs that show support for both sides. This gave Meriwether, who has been lecturing at the College since 1996 to seek for damages. However, Shawnee State and its lawyer did not give a quick response on the present state of event. 

A Christian conservative law firm, The Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a federal lawsuit on November 2019, on behalf of Meriwether. The Alliance Defending Freedom has special interest in cases that involve 'religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family.’

NBC News obtained the text of the lawsuit which read;

'In January 2018, a male student demanded that Dr. Meriwether address him as a woman because he identified as such and threatened to have Dr. Meriwether fired if he declined. To accede to these demands would have required Dr. Meriwether to communicate views regarding gender identity that he does not hold, that he does not wish to communicate, and that would contradict (and force him to violate) his sincerely held Christian beliefs…'’

John Bursch, a lawyer at the Alliance Defending Freedom, also added that 'Nobody should be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep their job.’

0/Post a Comment/Comments

Previous Post Next Post