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Professor receives $400,000 settlement after getting fired for refusing to say student's 'preferred' pronouns

"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," said Professor Nick Meriwether.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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A professor at an Ohio university has been awarded $400,000 after suing his university over demands that he use a student’s preferred pronouns.

"The student approached me after class and said that he wanted to be referred to as a female, and I tried to find an accommodation with the student. 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," Shawnee State University professor Nick Meriwether told "America Reports."

Meriwether said that the demand went against his freedom of speech and religion.

"I believe that God created men and women, male and female. 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," he said.

According to the New York Post, the Ohio-based university reportedly punished Meriwether in 2018 for refusing to use a student’s preferred pronouns.

The university reportedly argued that it was not his job to address his students as they request, and therefore was not protected by the First Amendment.

Meriwether argued that the university violated his rights, forcing him to go against his Christian beliefs.

Meriwether was represented in court by Alliance Defending Freedom, with settlement bringing the three-year ordeal to a close.

"This case forced us to defend what used to be a common belief—that nobody should be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep their job," said ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham.

"Dr. Meriwether went out of his way to accommodate his students and treat them all with dignity and respect, yet his university punished him because he wouldn’t endorse an ideology that he believes is false. We’re pleased to see the university recognize that the First Amendment guarantees Dr. Meriwether—and every other American—the right to speak and act in a manner consistent with one’s faith and convictions," he added.

"Public universities should welcome intellectual and ideological diversity, where all students and professors can engage in meaningful discussions without compromising their core beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.

"Dr. Meriwether rightly defended his freedom to speak and stay silent, and not conform to the university’s demand for uniformity of thought. We commend the university for ultimately agreeing to do the right thing, in keeping with its reason for existence as a marketplace of ideas," he said.

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