A student who threatened to have a Christian professor at Shawnee State University fired for not using her preferred pronouns seemingly got her way when the school ordered the professor to use them or face termination.
The Alliance Defending Freedom reports the professor addressed the student as “sir” after responding to a question during the lecture.
Following the lecture, the student told the professor she was transgender and demanded he refers to her by feminine pronouns,
The Christian professor objected, citing his Christian faith.
The Alliance Defending Freedom reports:
As a Christian, Dr. Meriwether believes that God has created human beings in his image, as male or female—and that God does not make mistakes. To call a man a woman or vice versa would be to say something that just is not true and to endorse an ideology that conflicts with his religious beliefs.
The report adds:
When Dr. Meriwether did not agree, the student became aggressive, circling around him, getting in his face in a threatening fashion, while telling him, “Then I guess this means I can call you a c**t.”
Before walking away, the student promised to get Dr. Meriwether fired if he did not agree to the student’s demands.
“The student filed a complaint with the university, which launched a formal investigation,” the report continues, noting Meriwether should not have his own rights trampled at the cost of another person’s.
The investigation resulted in the professor changing his approach to addressing his students, instead referring to them by “Mr.” or “Ms.” and their last name. But this was not enough.
Shawnee State officials pushed back on their own professor, saying he was in violation of their nondiscrimination policy.
As a result, the professor will have to comply with the student’s preferred pronouns or be fired.
So he sued.
The Daily Wire reports:
The Federalist’s Chad Felix Greene reported that the professor, Nicholas Meriwether, sued with the help of ADF after SSU sided with the student and agreed the professor had created a “hostile” environment in violation of the school’s anti-discrimination policy.
“Shawnee State officials have also ignored the Constitution, which guarantees the right of all Americans to speak freely,” Meriwether’s lawsuit said. The court dismissed his suit, claiming he didn’t prove he had been discriminated against for his religious beliefs.
“Plaintiff’s refusal to address a student in class in accordance with the student’s gender identity does not implicate broader societal concerns and the free speech clause of the First Amendment under the circumstances of this case,” the court ruled.
But, the court still decided with the student, claiming Meriwether did have his own rights trampled:
The court rejected the professor’s religious objections, saying the reasonable-person standard would not consider using preferred pronouns as unreasonable and that the anti-discrimination policy is “neutral” and therefore not specifically affecting any religious group or belief. Most shockingly, the court upheld the university’s position that it could not accommodate the professor due to his religious objection, as it would then be required to make similar accommodations for racist or sexist views as well.
Strangely, the court determined Meriwether faced no form of discrimination for his religious beliefs after his superior openly laughed at his concerns during their meeting and compared his views to those of racists. Meriwether also could not prove other faculty who opposed gender identity accommodations had been treated differently than he had been. Essentially, because the university would have disciplined all faculty refusing to use preferred pronouns equally, the court decided no discrimination was present.
As the Federalist reports, the LGTBQ community has rallied behind the student.
Jae Keniston, president of Shawnee’s LGBT organization, said: “Since this lawsuit began [in 2018], transgender students have been worried that they would have to start skipping classes or avoid particular professors because Shawnee State would no longer be able to effectively address bullying, harassment, and mistreatment of transgender students.”
The LGBTQ Nation (a news outlet) applauded the court’s decision: “The Constitution doesn’t protect a Christian teacher harassing transgender students, even if it’s his ‘sincerely held religious belief.’”