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A university in Southern Ohio has to pay a professor $400,000 after it disciplined him four years ago for refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns, according to Shawnee State University.
The professor, Nicholas Meriwether, will not be required to use certain pronouns regardless of a student’s request, his attorney’s release states.
The ruling comes as many schools across the United States are facing the reality of balancing the inclusivity of transgender students and the religious beliefs of some teachers and professors.
Truth Tent reported:
Meriwether sued in 2018 after he was disciplined, and a federal district court dismissed the suit for lack of standing. Then, last year a three-judge appellate panel revived the lawsuit and sent it back to the lower court, where Meriwether could have argued his First Amendment rights of free speech and religion and his 14th Amendment right to due process were violated.
Alliance For Defending Freedom shared:
The student then filed a complaint with the university, which launched a formal investigation. Meriwether offered to call the student by first or last name, but the student insisted that Meriwether use pronouns and titles consistent with the student’s gender identity. University officials ultimately rejected any compromise that would allow Meriwether 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 simply by declining to use the feminine pronouns demanded by 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.
The university must now pay Meriwether $400,000 to settle the lawsuit.
This settlement follows a three-year battle that ended last year when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Meriwether.
This case forced us to defend what used to be a common belief — that nobody should be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep their job,” Travis Barham, senior counsel for the alliance, said in a statement last week.
“Dr. Meriwether went out of his way to accommodate his students and treat them all with dignity and respect, yet his university punished him because he wouldn’t endorse an ideology that he believes is false.”
Meriwether’s settlement includes a payout for his attorney fees and assurance from the Univerity that he will “never be mandated to use pronouns, including if a student requests pronouns that conflict with his or her biological sex,” according to ADF’s statement.
The Alliance Defending Freedom is a conservative and Christian law firm based in Arizona. They have a long track record of litigating against LGBTQ rights and have been labeled an anti-LGBTQ “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to its website, the group aims to secure “generational wins” to ensure that “the law respects God’s creative order for marriage, the family, and human sexuality.”