PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — A judge dismissed a professor’s lawsuit against a small, public university in Ohio that rebuked him for not addressing a transgender student using the student’s preferred gender terms.
Nicholas Meriwether’s federal lawsuit alleged that Shawnee State University officials violated his rights by compelling him to speak in a way that contradicts his Christian beliefs.
Schools officials contended that such language was part of his job responsibilities, not speech protected by the First Amendment, and that the case should be dismissed. U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott dismissed it last week, agreeing that the manner in which Meriwether addressed the student wasn’t protected under the First Amendment.
Asked whether Meriwether would further pursue the matter, his attorney, Travis Barham of Alliance Defending Freedom, said Monday that they are evaluating their next steps.
“This is wrong,” Barham said in a statement. “Public universities have no business compelling people to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold.”
Meriwether had received a written warning for violating the school’s nondiscrimination policy and unsuccessfully challenged his reprimand in a grievance process. Meriwether said he treated the student like “other biologically male students.”
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