A Christian professor from Ohio has taken Shawnee State University to court after being disciplined for declining to call a male student ‘she’.
Prof. Nicholas Meriwether, who refers to his students as “sir” and “ma’am”, offended the transgender student by referring to him using male pronouns.
The university accused the professor of creating “a hostile environment” for the student.
‘Further corrective actions’
The male student, who identifies as a woman, approached the professor at a lecture to demand that he refer to him using female pronouns.
When Prof. Meriwether did not immediately agree to this, the student verbally abused him and threatened to get him fired.
The university formally charged him, saying he had created “a hostile environment” for the student.
It also placed a warning on his employment record threatening “further corrective actions” if he did not refer to students using pronouns that reflect their self-declared ‘gender’.
Religious liberty organisation, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) are filing a federal lawsuit against Shawnee State University on behalf of the professor.
It said: “Universities are meant to be a marketplace of ideas, not an assembly line for one type of thought, but apparently, Shawnee State has ignored that foundational truth.”
To call a man a woman or vice versa would be to endorse an ideology that conflicts with his religious beliefs.
Prof. Meriwether believes that God created human beings, male and female, in his image. “To call a man a woman or vice versa would be to endorse an ideology that conflicts with his religious beliefs”, ADF said.
They continued: “The message from the university is loud and clear: You must endorse the university’s favored ideology or be punished.”
Freedom of expression
Gender pronoun battles are taking place all over the United States, in schools and universities.
In March 2017, the New York City Department of Education issued guidance to staff to address transgender students by their preferred pronouns – similar guidance to that adhered to by Shawnee State University.
Prof. Meriwether submitted a grievance request to his union arguing the university violated his freedom of expression.
This isn’t just about a pronoun; this is about endorsing an ideology.
“Public universities have no business compelling people to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold,” argued Tyson Langhofer, Director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.
“This isn’t just about a pronoun; this is about endorsing an ideology.”