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A professor in Ohio won a $400,000 lawsuit against a public university after it tried to force him to use a student’s preferred pronouns.
Nick Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State public university in Portsmouth, Ohio, told Fox News that a student approached him after class and asked him to refer to him in the feminine and that he tried to reach a settlement with the student and the institution.
“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,” Meriwether said.
The university said using inclusive language toward the student was the responsibility of the professor, who believes that forcing him to use specific pronouns is an assault on his right to free speech and against his Christian belief.
“I believe that God created men and women, male and female,” Meriwether expressed. “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.”
The university punished the professor for not using the language demanded of him, so Meriwether was forced to face the authorities in Ohio’s 6th District Court of Appeals in a three-year legal battle. Ultimately, the judge ruled in favor of the educator and said his rights were violated.
Tyson Langhofer, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom who represented Meriwether in court, hopes the professor’s legal victory sends a clear message to the nation’s universities that “we shouldn’t be compelling professors to say things they don’t believe.”