School to pay professor $400K settlement over pronoun case

A Shawnee State University professor won $400,000 from the university in a settlement after being forced to use a student's preferred pronouns.

The lawsuit argued that the demand violated the professors First Amendment rights.

A philosophy professor at Shawnee State University (SSU) won $400,000 in a settlement from the university over the school’s attempt to force him to use non-biological pronouns for a student.

Nicholas Meriwether filed a lawsuit against the Ohio school in 2019 for compelling him to honor a male student’s request to “address him as a woman because he identified as such.” 

Meriwether declined to do so on the basis that using preferred pronouns would be in contrast to “religious convictions and philosophical beliefs.” Instead, he offered to refer to the student as his chosen name.

[RELATED: Prof sues over gender pronoun usage]

The lawsuit notes that the student did not accept the compromise and, instead, threatened to get Meriwether fired. SSU enforced the use of preferred pronouns.

Meriwether was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, who made the argument that the university’s enforcement was a violation of Meriwether’s First Amendment rights.

”As part of the settlement, the university has agreed that Meriwether has the right to choose when to use, or avoid using, titles or pronouns when referring to or addressing students,” according to a statement from ADF. “Significantly, the university agreed Meriwether will never be mandated to use pronouns, including if a student requests pronouns that conflict with his or her biological sex.

[RELATED: Federal judge: Always using biological pronouns ‘not protected under the First Amendment’]

“Shawnee State will continue to follow our non-discrimination policy, work to balance the rights of all on our campus, and seek acceptable compromise when those rights are perceived to be in opposition,” Executive Director of Marketing & Communications Elizabeth Blevins told Campus Reform.

”Shawnee State continues to support its Trans and LGBTQ+ students. Shawnee State offers specific resources and support services to students through its Women’s and Gender Equity Center, Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Student Life, and Counseling Services,” Blevins added.

Campus Reform contacted ADF and Meriwether for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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