Court Sides With Christian Professor Who Refuses to Call a 'He' a 'She'

Mar 30, 2021

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a professor’s First Amendment rights may have been violated when a university punished him for refusing to follow the school’s rules on using students’ “preferred pronouns.”
Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, a Christian and a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, was punished by the university for not referring to a male student with the student’s preferred female pronouns. The “pronoun policy” applied “regardless of the professor’s convictions or views on the subject.”
After going through a grievance process and feeling out of options, Meriwether filed a lawsuit. A district court dismissed his suit; however, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is permitting the lawsuit to continue.
In the decision, Circuit Judge Amul Thapar writes, “Meriwether believes that ‘God created human beings as either male or female,’” and “he also believes that he cannot ‘affirm as true ideas and concepts that are not true.’”
“Under controlling Supreme Court and Sixth Circuit precedent, the First Amendment protects the academic speech of university professors. Since Meriwether plausibly alleged that Shawnee State violated his First Amendment rights by compelling his speech or silence and casting a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom, his free-speech claim may proceed.”
Judge Thapar further writes, “If professors lacked free-speech protections when teaching, a university would wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity.”

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