- The Washington Times - Monday, November 5, 2018

A philosophy professor in Ohio sued his employer Monday after the university forced him to refer to a transgender student by the student’s preferred gender pronoun, saying the school’s gender identity policy violates his religious convictions.

Nicholas Meriwether, a professor at Shawnee State University and an evangelical Christian, had offered to refer to Alena Burning, a biologically male student, by the student’s preferred name.

But Ms. Bruening demanded to be referred to as “Miss” and “she” in accordance with the student’s gender identity, filing a complaint against her professor earlier this year for not accommodating her wishes.

Shawnee State University, a public school in Ohio, requires its staff to refer to transgender student’s by his or her preferred gender pronouns.

“They demand this even though the concept of gender identity is entirely subjective and fluid, even though the number of potential gender identities is infinite,” read Mr. Meriwether’s lawsuit, which was filed in the Southern District of Ohio on Monday.

As a result of Ms. Bruening’s complaint against her teacher, the school noted the gender identity policy violation in Mr. Meriwether’s file and warned him against any future violations.

In his lawsuit, Mr. Meriwether’s attorneys argue the school violated the professor’s First Amendment rights.

“Tolerance is a two-way street,” said Travis Barham, counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty law firm representing Mr. Meriwether.

“Universities are meant to be a marketplace of ideas, not an assembly line for one type of thought, but apparently, Shawnee State has ignored that foundational truth,” Mr. Barham added.

A spokesperson for Shawnee State University said the school’s legal counsel is currently reviewing Mr. Meriwether’s lawsuit.

“We value freedom of expression by students, faculty, staff, and visitors on our campus — and provide an educational and work environment that is free from discrimination, retaliation, and harassment,” said Elizabeth Blevins, the university’s director of communications.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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