A professor in Ohio fought back after university staff reprimanded him for refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns.
Nicholas Meriwether referred to the student, who was born male, as “sir.”
Although he claimed his religious beliefs dictated that he recognize individuals as their gender at birth, Shawnee State University said he had no right to go against the student’s wishes.
Following an investigation, the university handed down a written reprimand.
The professor filed a lawsuit that was initially dismissed, but he has since settled the case for $400,000.
According to the Daily Wire:
Meriwether and SSU have now settled the matter. Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Meriwether, released a statement saying that the university “agreed to pay $400,000 in damages and Meriwether’s attorneys’ fees. Additionally, considering the 6th Circuit’s ruling, the university is rescinding the written warning it issued Meriwether in June 2018.” Further, “the university has agreed that Meriwether has the right to choose when to use, or avoid using, titles or pronouns when referring to or addressing students. Significantly, the university agreed Meriwether will never be mandated to use pronouns, including if a student requests pronouns that conflict with his or her biological sex,” ADF noted.
“This case forced us to defend what used to be a common belief—that nobody should be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep their job,” ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham said in the press release. “Dr. Meriwether went out of his way to accommodate his students and treat them all with dignity and respect, yet his university punished him because he wouldn’t endorse an ideology that he believes is false. We’re pleased to see the university recognize that the First Amendment guarantees Dr. Meriwether—and every other American—the right to speak and act in a manner consistent with one’s faith and convictions.”
The debate over transgender rights has raged in recent years with several recent stories shaping public discourse on the topic.
Two inmates pregnant after sleeping with a transgender inmate 😂😂😂😂😂😂 if you’re not laughing at life you’re missing the whole point
— lil duval (@lilduval) April 16, 2022
— Andrew Bahl (@AndrewBahl) April 15, 2022
Pennsylvania House passes bill preventing transgender females from competing in female sportshttps://t.co/QZIJjZPldn
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 13, 2022
— New York Post (@nypost) April 11, 2022
The settlement in Meriwether’s favor could have a major impact on the free speech rights of those who similarly refuse to refer to trans individuals by their chosen gender.
As the Daily Signal explained:
In a victory for free speech, the rule of law, and common sense, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit has ruled that a philosophy professor could not be forced to use a transgender student’s “preferred pronouns,” and that his suit against the university for violation of his First and 14th Amendment rights could proceed.
The court’s decision is the first of its kind, and establishes a needed boundary against American culture’s new, brutish sexual orthodoxy.
At least within academia, one can no longer be compelled to say things one doesn’t believe.
Meriwether has discussed his case openly in the past, including during this Fox News Channel appearance.
Do you support the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in this case?