Friday, March 26, 2021

Another Reminder That Transgender Has a Bullying Aspect to It

 Meriwhether v.Hartop et al. (6th Cir. 2021):

At the start of the school year, Shawnee State emailed the faculty informing them that they had to refer to students by their “preferred pronoun[s].” Id. at 1471–72. Meriwether asked university officials for more details about the new pronoun policy, and the officials confirmed that professors would be disciplined if they “refused to use a pronoun that reflects a student’s self-asserted gender identity.” Id. at 1472. What if a professor had moral or religious objections? That didn’t matter: The policy applied “regardless of the professor’s convictions or views on the subject.” Id.

When Meriwether asked to see the revised policy, university officials pointed him to the school’s existing policy prohibiting discrimination “because of . . . gender identity.” R. 34-1, Pg. ID 1509. That policy applies to all of the university’s “employees, students, visitors, agents and volunteers”; it applies at both academic and non-academic events; it applies on all university property (including classrooms, dorms, and athletic fields); and it sometimes applies off campus. R. 34-2, Pg. ID 1511–12.

Meriwether approached the chair of his department, Jennifer Pauley, to discuss his concerns about the newly announced rules. Pauley was derisive and scornful. Knowing that Meriwether had successfully taught courses on Christian thought for decades, she said that Christians are “primarily motivated out of fear” and should be “banned from teaching courses regarding that religion.” R. 34, Pg. ID 1473. In her view, even the “presence of religion in higher education is counterproductive.” Id. Meriwether continued to teach students without incident until January 2018. On the first day of class,

Meriwether was using the Socratic method to lead discussion in his course on Political Philosophy. When using that method, he addresses students as “Mr.” or “Ms.” He believes “this formal manner of addressing students helps them view the academic enterprise as a serious, weighty endeavor” and “foster[s] an atmosphere of seriousness and mutual respect.” Id. at 1475. He “has found that addressing students in this fashion is an important pedagogical tool in all of his classes, but especially in Political Philosophy where he and [the] students discuss many of the most controversial issues of public concern.” Id. In that first class, one of the students Meriwether called on was Doe. According to Meriwether, “no one . . . would have assumed that [Doe] was female” based on Doe’s outward appearances. Id. at 1474. Thus, Meriwether responded to a question from Doe by saying, “Yes, sir.” Id. This was Meriwether’s first time meeting Doe, and the university had not provided Meriwether with any information about Doe’s sex or gender identity.

After class, Doe approached Meriwether and “demanded” that Meriwether “refer to [Doe] as a woman” and use “feminine titles and pronouns.” Id. at1475. This was the first time that Meriwether learned that Doe identified as a woman. So Meriwether paused before responding because his sincerely held religious beliefs prevented him from communicating messages about gender identity that he believes are false. He explained that he wasn’t sure if he could comply with Doe’s demands. Doe became hostile—circling around Meriwether at first, and then approaching him in a threatening manner: “I guess this means I can call you a cu--.” Id. Doe promised that Meriwether would be fired if he did not give in to Doe’s demands.

The good news is that cowards at this public college have had their noses beat by the Court of Appeals for giving into this crybully by reprimanding him. 

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