After Shawnee State University disciplined an evangelical professor for declining to use a male transgender student’s preferred feminine pronoun, the devout Christian is suing school officials for pressuring him to act contrary to his religious beliefs.
Shawnee State University professor of Philosophy Dr. Nicholas Meriwether contends in the lawsuit that he was illegally disciplined for not accommodating a male student’s demand to be addressed as a woman in class by using feminine-specific titles and pronouns such as “Miss.,” “she,” etc.
Not bowing to the LGBT agenda
Meriwether is not willing to bow down to the university’s demands that are not based on science or objective medical evidence, but rather on catering to a whimsical lexicon firmly rooted in the LGBT agenda – which the male transgender student, going by the name of “Alena” Burning, insists should be the rule of law in the classroom.
"They demand this even though the concept of gender identity is entirely subjective and fluid – even though the number of potential gender identities is infinite," Meriwether stated in the lawsuit, Meriwether v. The Trustees of Shawnee State University, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
On behalf of Meriwether, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a federal lawsuit last week against Shawnee State University, arguing that school officials are unconstitutionally trying to force the Christian professor – a member of the Presbyterian Church of America – to deny acting according to his sincerely held biblical beliefs on human sexuality.
“Although Philosophy professor Dr. Nicholas Meriwether offered to use the student’s first or last name instead, neither the student nor the university was willing to accept that compromise, choosing instead to force the professor to speak and act contrary to his own Christian convictions,” ADF stated in a news release.
ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham insists that the university cannot force professors to accommodate its politically correct pro-LGBT campus politics while demanding that they violate their own conscience.
“Tolerance is a two-way street,” Barham asserted in the ADF news release. “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.”
The Christian attorney indicated that school officials must not put LGBT privileges above believers’ freedom of speech guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
“The university refused to consider any solutions that would respect the freedoms of everyone involved,” Barham continued. “It instead chose to impose its own orthodoxy on Dr. Meriwether under threat of further punishment if he doesn’t relinquish his rights protected by the First Amendment.”
A crime to go by a student’s biological sex?
Earlier this year, Meriwether was confronted by the male transgender student who had a problem with being addressed by his natural gender.
“In January – during a political philosophy class he was teaching – Meriwether responded to a male student’s question by saying, ‘Yes, sir,’” ADF explained. “Meriwether responded in this fashion because he refers to all his students as ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ or by a title – Mr. or Miss, for example – followed by their last name to foster an atmosphere of seriousness and mutual respect.”
However, the transgender student ordered his professor to bypass his classroom protocol and abide by his preferred LGBT-dictated lexicon.
“After the class, the student approached Meriwether, stated that he was transgender, and demanded that the professor refer to him as a woman – with feminine titles and pronouns,” ADF recounted. “When Meriwether did not instantly agree, the student became belligerent, circling around Meriwether and getting in his face in a threatening fashion while telling him, ‘Then I guess this means I can call you a [expletive].’ Before walking away, the student promised to get Meriwether fired if he did not agree to the student’s demands.”
The hostile transgender subsequently made good on his vow to seek vengeance on his professor.
“The student then filed a complaint with the university, which launched a formal investigation,” ADF informed. “Meriwether offered to call the student by his first or last name only, but university officials rejected this and anything else that would allow him to speak according to his conscience and sincerely held religious beliefs. Instead, they formally charged him, saying ‘he effectively created a hostile environment’ for the student. Later, they placed a written warning in his personnel file and threatened ‘further corrective actions’ – unless he articulates the university’s ideological message.”
ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer – who also serves as the director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom – argued that public universities are overstepping their boundaries when they force the campus community to express ideological beliefs that run contrary to their own.
“This isn’t just about a pronoun – this is about endorsing an ideology,” the attorney impressed. “The university favors certain beliefs, and it wants to force Dr. Meriwether to cry uncle and endorse them, as well. That’s neither legal nor constitutional – and neither was the process the university has used to get to this point.
ADF is requesting that the federal court will order school officials to honor and respect Meriwether’s constitutional freedoms.
Univ. not addressing the issue
As school officials and attorneys are reviewing the lawsuit, Shawnee State University Spokesperson Elizabeth Blevins claims that the higher education institution aims to let the entire campus community freely express themselves – even though the university made it clear that Meriwether had no such freedom.
"[W]e [the university] support the freedom of expression by students, faculty, staff and visitors on our campus – and provide an educational and work environment that is free from discrimination, retaliation and harassment," Blevins assured, according to The Sputnik News.
Ongoing gender war
As the LGBT agenda continues to demand more and more privileges and rights – many of which have been granted during former President Barack Obama’s time in office – an alarming number of pro-LGBT policies have surfaced in public education … from kindergarten through graduate school.
“Gender pronoun battles have taken place across U.S. schools in universities over the last few years,” The Christian Post (CP) pointed out.
Since last spring in the Big Apple, a teacher who refuses to call students by whatever gender they feel like being during the school day will be held in violation of a directive sent out by school district officials.
“Back in March 2017, the New York City Department of Education issued a memo to all teachers and faculty to address transgender students by their preferred pronouns – including ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘they’ or ‘ze,’" CP’s Stoyan Zaimov noted. “The memo positioned at the time that ‘all students have the right to have their gender identity recognized and respected by their school community.’"