In Ohio, a university professor was awarded $400,000 after he sued his employers over their policy demanding that he refer to students by their “preferred” pronouns.
The New York Post reports Professor Nick Meriwether was first punished by Shawnee State University back in 2018 after he refused to refer to a male student with female pronouns, after the student claimed to be “transgender.” Meriwether said that, at the time, “I tried to find an accommodation with the student. I was willing to use his proper name, female proper name, and initially the administration was willing to go along with that.”
“But then the administration changed course and demanded that I defer to the ideology, that I refer to the student as a female,” Meriwether explained in an interview. “And I simply could not do that.”
In response to Meriwether’s stand for his religious beliefs, the university claimed that his beliefs were not protected under the First Amendment, since it was his job as a university professor to use whatever language the school ordered.
“I believe that God created men and women, male and female. But also the idea that my speech could be coerced, could be compelled by the administration…The college classroom is to be a place of debate and discussion and freewheeling ideas,” Meriwether continued. “The university has no place in telling professors how they are to think with the students. It was a coercion of my freedom of speech.”
Meriwether’s case, which lasted for three years and took place before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The court ultimately ruled in Meriwether’s favor in 2021.
Tyson Langhofer, Meriwether’s attorney through ADF, said that he hoped the decision and subsequent settlement “sends a message to all universities and professors that you know, we shouldn’t be compelling professors to say things they don’t believe.”