Professor Who Wouldn’t Use Trans Student’s Pronouns Wins $400,000 Settlement

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A small public university in Ohio last week agreed to pay one of its professors $400,000 after he reprimanded him for refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns.

Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, about 85 miles south of Columbus, warned philosophy professor Nicholas Meriwether in 2018 not to use pronouns.

In response, Meriwether, who is an evangelical Christian, filed a federal lawsuit against the university that year, claiming officials violated his constitutional rights by forcing him to speak in a way that contradicted his religious beliefs.

The settlement of the case follows a three-year legal battle that ended last year, with the 6th United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Meriwether. Meriwether’s legal representation, the Alliance Defending Freedom, applauded the settlement to compensate him.

“This case has forced us to stand up for what was once a common belief – that no one should be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep their job,” Travis Barham, lead attorney for the alliance, said in a statement. statement Last week. “Dr. Meriwether went out of his way to welcome his students and treat them all with dignity and respect, but his university punished him for not endorsing an ideology he believed to be false.”

Meriwether’s settlement included payment for his attorney’s fees and assurances from the university that he “will never be required to use pronouns, including if a student requests pronouns that conflict with his or her gender. organic,” according to the ADF statement.

Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based conservative Christian law firm, has decades of LGBTQ rights litigation experience and has been called anti-LGBTQ”hate groupby the Southern Poverty Law Center, an ADF designation disputes. According to his websitethe group aims to achieve “generational victories” to ensure that “the law upholds God’s creative order for marriage, the family, and human sexuality.”

Over the past decade, ADF financing has more than doubled from over $34.5 million in 2011 to more than $76 million in 2021.

Shawnee State said in a statement last week that he “categorically” denies “depriving Dr Meriwether of his rights to free speech or his right to freely exercise his religion”, and called the settlement an “economic decision”.

“We continue to uphold the right of students to a learning environment free of discrimination as well as the rights of faculty, visitors, students and employees to freely express their ideas and beliefs,” the university said. “During this trial, it became clear that the case was being used to advance divisive social and political agendas to the detriment of the university and its students. This cost is better spent fulfilling the service mission of Shawnee State to our students, families and community.”

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