Professor sues university for being ‘punished’ after calling female transgender student ‘sir’

A professor at a small public university in Ohio is suing officials at the school after he received a written rebuke for not addressing a transgender student using the preferred gender pronouns.

Nicholas Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court this month against university officials.

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The lawsuit asserts that university officials violated his constitutional rights by compelling him to speak in a way that contradicts his religious beliefs, according to NBC News.

Meriwether is an evangelical Christian, and as such, felt that speaking to a transgender student in their preferred pronoun would have “forced him to violate his sincerely held Christian beliefs,” the lawsuit states.

Meriwether, who has been with the university since 1996, felt he was “silenced by the school.”

“In January 2018, a male student demanded that Dr. Meriwether address him as a woman because he identified as such and threatened to have Dr. Meriwether fired if he declined,” according to the lawsuit filed on Nov. 5.

The lawsuit states that once Meriwether refused to call the student by the preferred pronouns, the student became “belligerent” and said “Then I guess this means I can call you a (expletive),” according to local paper the Portsmouth Daily Times.

After the student complained to the university, the lawsuit alleges the school “punished” Meriwether for “expressing views that differ from its own orthodoxy and for declining to express its mandated ideological message.”

The lawsuit was filed on Meriwether’s behalf by conservative Christian law firm the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), according to NBC News.

The lawsuit claims “the number of potential gender identities is infinite” and states there are “over one hundred different options currently available.”

Shawnee State University declined to comment to NBC on the lawsuit but said in a statement that it values “freedom of expression” and maintains “an educational and work environment that is free from discrimination, retaliation and harassment.”