PORTSMOUTH, Ohio, November 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A college professor who refused to indulge a male student’s desire to be considered a female is taking university officials to court in a bid to clear his record.
Nicolas Meriwether is a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University (SSU) in Ohio. Last year, a male student who “identifies” as female objected to being addressed as “sir” instead of “ma’am.” Meriwether offered to address him simply by his name as a compromise, but refused to agree to an inaccurate pronoun.
The student then “got in his face” and threatened to have him fired if he refused, Meriwether says, according to the Kansas City Star. His superiors sided with the student, ordering him to use transgender pronouns, citing him for creating a “hostile environment” in his classroom, and allegedly telling him that his religious views on the subject were “harmful” and “oppress[ive].”
The school also threatened “further corrective actions” if Meriwether didn’t comply. Instead, he has enlisted the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in a lawsuit against several SSU officials. He is seeking damages, a formal acknowledgment that his rights were violated, and for any punishment on the matter to be expunged from his records.
“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 (with over one hundred different options currently available), and even though the number of potential pronouns has likewise multiplied in recent years — all for the purpose of lending credence to cultural ideas Dr. Meriwether does not share or wish to advance,” ADF argues in the lawsuit.
SSU has responded by claiming “it will become clear that we made decisions in an effort to both respect our faculty member’s deep-rooted religious beliefs and our student’s right to equal treatment in the classroom,” and that its actions helped guarantee students “an educational and work environment that is free from discrimination, retaliation and harassment.” But ADF isn’t convinced.
“Tolerance is a two-way street. 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,” ADF senior counsel Travis Barham said. “The university refused to consider any solutions that would respect the freedoms of everyone involved. 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.”
“This isn’t just about a pronoun; this is about endorsing an ideology. The university favors certain beliefs, and it wants to force Dr. Meriwether to cry uncle and endorse them as well,” added Tyson Langhofer, director of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom. “That’s neither legal nor constitutional, and neither was the process the university has used to get to this point. We are asking the court to order the university to respect Dr. Meriwether’s freedoms.”
In just a few years, gender ideology has become one of the most perilous subjects for open debate in academia and elsewhere. The Trump administration set off a firestorm by simply proposing to define sex biologically in federal regulations, and the University of Minnesota is reportedly considering making it a fireable or expulsion-worthy offense to not use the preferred pronouns of anyone on campus.
Most recently, student senator Isabella Chow at the University of California-Berkeley became a target of widespread protests, attacks, and disavowals because she dissented from a resolution condemning the proposed Trump policy and endorsing transgenderism.