A professor sued Ohio-based Shawnee State University for violating his First Amendment rights after the school punished him because he would not use gay “pronouns” to address students.
Nick Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State, won a $400,000 judgment after the school punished him for saying “yes sir” when a male student demanded to be called a “she.”
Meriwether consistently refused to call the male student a female. Naturally, the radical, leftist student went crying to the university brass. And just as unsurprisingly, the administration punished the professor and claimed that he had “effectively created a hostile environment” for the demented student. But Meriwether sued.
“When Meriwether did not instantly agree, the student became belligerent and promised to get Meriwether fired,” the Alliance Defending Freedom reported.
After the student whined to school administrators, Meriwether said the pronouns would force him to act “contrary to his own Christian convictions and philosophical beliefs.”
Meriwether’s lawsuit was dismissed in February 2020, but was revived by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March 2021.
“[Shawnee State University] punished a professor for his speech on a hotly contested issue. And it did so despite the constitutional protections afforded by the First Amendment,” a three-judge panel wrote in their unanimous opinion. “The district court dismissed the professor’s free-speech and free-exercise claims. We see things differently and reverse.”
He then won his case.
“As part of the settlement, 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,” the ADF said. “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.”
“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 a statement. “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,” Barham said.
“Public universities should welcome intellectual and ideological diversity, where all students and professors can engage in meaningful discussions without compromising their core beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer. “Dr. Meriwether rightly defended his freedom to speak and stay silent, and not conform to the university’s demand for uniformity of thought. We commend the university for ultimately agreeing to do the right thing, in keeping with its reason for existence as a marketplace of ideas.”
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