Ohio's Shawnee State University's religion and philosophy professor, Nicholas Meriwether, is taking legal action against the university after he was punished for not honoring a transgender student's pronouns and gender identity, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Meriwether put in a complaint to the U.S. District Court citing violations of freedom of speech, religion, and due process.
When Meriwether was approached by a student in January, requesting the professor use she/her pronouns when addressing her, he said he was not sure if he could do that. Meriwether claims in the court document that the student began to "circle around him" and call him the c-word. The student has also filed a complaint against the university. The student claims Meriwether put "mister" in front of her last name; Meriwether claims that was accidental.
Meriwether asked how to handle the situation and the acting dean, Roberta Milliken, said “I am afraid my answer is the same that it has always been: Every student needs to be treated the same in all of your classes."
There are no clear anti-discrimination policies at the university for trans students, however, gender is protected under the non-discrimination policies. There has been a Title IX investigation of Meriwether, which resulted in a written warning in his file that he violated the school's non-discrimination policies.
Meriwether has tried to level with the school by requesting he makes it explicit on his syllabi that he is using preferred pronouns "under compulsion" but he has said the school refuses to meet him in the middle.
"I am a Christian. As such, it is my sincerely held religious belief, based on the Bible’s teachings, that God created human beings as either male or female, that this gender is fixed in each person from the moment of conception, and that it cannot be changed,” Meriwether told the Enquirer.