‘Tolerance is a two-way street…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A federal judge threw out a professor’s lawsuit against Shawnee State University after the school forced him to refer to a male transgender student as a female.
Last year, Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, a philosophy professor at the school, was approached by a transgender student who was upset Meriwether had responded to a question with “Yes, sir.”
Instead, the student requested to be referred to with feminine pronouns.
Meriwether did not instantly agree, but did say he would avoid pronouns altogether and only use the student’s name.
“Then I guess this means I can call you a c**t,” the student responded before filing a complaint with school officials.
Instead of defending Meriwether’s rights, the school launched a formal investigation and formally charged him for “effectively creating a hostile environment” for the student.
If Meriwether did not submit to the student’s wishes, the school threatened “further corrective actions” against him.
“Tolerance is a two-way street,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Travis Barham, who represents Meriwether, in a statement.
“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,” 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.”
Meriwether’s case “isn’t just about a pronoun,” it’s “about endorsing an ideology,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer.
“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,” Langhofer said, “and neither was the process the university has used to get to this point.”
ADF said it plans to appeal Meriwether’s case in the district court.