Professor Sues University Over Transgender Student Pronoun Requests

Chelsi Parker almost bled to death almost directly in front of the courthouse where she’s suing. The 27-year-old survivor was hit in the lung “through her right armpit” allegedly by a paroled patron after he was allegedly told to take his beef with two rival brothers "outside." Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A religion and philosophy professor is suing his university employer in federal court because he believes he was wrongly penalized for dismissing a transgender student's requests to use female gender words to refer to her.

Nicholas Meriwether has been teaching at Shawnee State University since 1996 and claims he has always maintained a sense of seriousness and mutual respect in his classrooms by addressing religion and philosophy students with the same formal titles of "sir," "ma'am," "mister," or "miss."

But according to Monday's lawsuit, he claims that the university officials and trustees punished him after he refused to alter his uniform policies and attempted to violate his freedom of speech, religion and due process, according to the complaint, first reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Back in January, according to Meriwether's lawsuit, a student took him aside after class and asked that he refer to her with "female gender words."

Meriwether was unable to commit to the request and remained ambiguous about how he would proceed.

That's when the professor suggests the student allegedly surrounded him in an aggressive manner and allegedly compared his refusal to someone calling him a slanderous word, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The student then filed a formal complaint with the university.

The publication suggests that Shawnee State lacks a transgender­-specific policy but that language in its anti-discrimination policy includes gender­identity.

Roberta Milliken, an acting dean at the school allegedly warned Meriwether, according to the report.

"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," she allegedly told him.

He apparently didn't comply.

The same student complained about Meriwether again, the publication noted. This time it was him referring to her by a surname, and that he would put "mister" in front of it.

The professor blamed the "mister" on an oversight, according to the report.

After a Title IX probe was opened, Meriwether was given a warning that was placed in his personnel file for violating the school's nondiscrimination policy.

In response, the politically correct challenger fought back, claiming the university's actions violated his constitutional rights.

"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 wrote in a response.

The university, which didn't immediately respond to questions, wasn't swayed.

"Do these freedoms supersede the rights of an individual, a student in this case, against discrimination by a public employee at a state-supported institution?" wrote Provost Jeffrey Bauer in a denial of Meriwether's appeal, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. "When provided with options to avoid discrimination and opposition to his religious beliefs, Dr. Meriwether chose to continue his disparate treatment of the student."

Meriwether attempted to make some amends, like affixing a disclaimer to his syllabi that he was identifying students by their chosen pronouns as "under compulsion."

The professor's noncompliance with adapting transgender pronouns into his lexicon echoes a similar protest by University of Toronto psychology and bestselling author Jordan Petersen.

Back in 2016, Petersen made international headlines after he was fed up with the demands of having to assimilate to using gender-specific pronouns as requested by transgender students and also fellow staff, such as the singular "they" or "ze" and "zir" to replace "she" or "he".