A college professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio refused to call a transgender student by his non-biological pronoun and suffered harassment from both the student and university officials who threatened to fire him. The case went to the Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the professor and freedom of speech.
Professor Nicholas Meriwether was “punished for his speech on a hotly contested issue,” the Ohio appeals court reported. “And it did so despite the constitutional protections afforded by the First Amendment,” it added.
In 2018, Meriwether called a transsexual student “sir,” which he said happened because he was not informed of the pronoun his student preferred to use.
According to the lawsuit, the student then “demanded” that she be called “Ms.” like the rest of the female students. She threatened him with dismissal if he did not comply with her demand. Simultaneously, the university authorities asked Meriwether to stop using male and female titles and gender pronouns. Still, the professor, appealing to logic, argued that the request was almost impossible to satisfy.
The teacher offered to refer to the student in question only by her last name to solve the problem. But at a certain point, he called the student “Mr.” again in front of the class by accident. The issues and accusations against him escalated, and he finally ended up in the Court of Appeals, which fortunately ruled in his favor.
The recent court ruling opened the door for the professor to denounce the University for the mistreatment he received.
Speaking to Tucker Carlson on Fox News, Meriwether explained why he sued the university after they accused him of creating a “hostile environment” and threatened to put him out of a job.
“Well, basically, if I had not [sued], I would have been fired, I would have been terminated. That was one reason. It wasn’t the only reason. The other was, as you say, as you just said, I think we need to stand up against it, and I do think that we are losing our academic freedom. We are losing our freedom to disagree, and until people stand up to it,” Meriwether said in his defense.
He then warns that “I think it’s just going to get much, much worse much, much faster.”
Meriwether was accompanied by his attorney, Kristen Wagoner of Alliance Defending Freedom, who explained the importance of this case’s legal precedent.
“We won on free speech and free exercise grounds. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said very clearly that the use of titles and pronouns is part of a debate that this nation is engaging in right now,” the attorney reported.
Wagoner also cautioned that it is not the government’s role to set the terms of this debate or intervene on one side. The court’s decision referred to what would happen if the government were to take a position on this issue.
“For example, the government could force a pacifist to have to support the war. It could force a civil rights icon to criticize freedom riders, or even force a Christian to deny the existence of God,” Wagoner remarked.
The current administration aligned itself with the LGBT community to fight to advance rights that infringe on the freedom of speech and thought of all those who disagree with its ideals.