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Professor wins lawsuit against university over using preferred pronouns

An Ohio professor won $400,000 after suing a university over the academic institutions’ demand that the professor use a student’s preferred pronouns.

“The student approached me after class and said that he wanted to be referred to as a female, and 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 and I simply could not do that,” Shawnee State University professor Nick Meriwether told “America Reports.”

Meriwether said the university’s demand was an egregious assault on his freedom of speech and religious beliefs.

“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. 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.”

Based in Portsmouth, Ohio, Shawnee State University, reportedly punished Meriwether in 2018 for not addressing a transgender student with the student’s preferred gender pronouns. The university said that it was Meriwether’s job to use such language and therefore not First Amendment-protected speech. Meriwether pushed back, arguing that officials at the university violated his rights when they compelled him to go against his Christian beliefs.

Professor Nicholas Meriwether sued Shawnee State University over the school’s demand that professors use a student’s preferred pronouns.
Alliance Defending Freedom
Professor nicholas meriwether at shawnee state university.
Meriwether argued the university’s demand was an egregious assault on his freedom of speech and religious beliefs.
Alliance Defending Freedom

Meriwether was assisted and represented in court by Alliance Defending Freedom [ADF].

“After a three-year fight against the university, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reportedly ruled in 2021 that Meriwether’s rights had been violated,” Fox 11 reported.

Tyson Langhofer, the ADF attorney representing Meriwether in court, said hopefully this case sends a message to universities.

“It is done, and we are hopeful it sends a message to all universities and professors that you know, we shouldn’t be compelling professors to say things they don’t believe,” Langford said.

** ADVANCE FOR APRIL 15-17 ** A student walks to class on the campus of Shawnee State University, on March 16, 2006 in Portsmouth, Ohio. The 19-year-old university, where enrollment jumped 17.5 percent to 3,800 over the last 10 years, expects to grow within years to 5,300. Plans are under way to create a "motion-capture" studio, where 3-D digital characters and models will be computer-generated, a la the title star of "King Kong." The school is also helping develop local high-tech businesses, such as Yost Engineering, a downtown software company a university graduate and teacher helped start, so graduates can stay and work in their home region.
Shawnee State University reportedly punished Meriwether in 2018 for not addressing a transgender student with the student’s preferred gender pronouns.
AP/David Kohl
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