The Tyranny of Pronouns

NAS Joins Meriwether v. Trustees of Shawnee State in Amicus Brief

National Association of Scholars

Download the Amicus Brief

New York, NY, June 4, 2020 — Can university officials force their professors to call male students by feminine titles and pronouns? That’s the issue in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case of Meriwether v. Francesca Hartop and other officials at Ohio’s Shawnee State University. Professor Meriwether appealed after the federal district court ruled that his using masculine pronouns for a male student was not “speech” protected by the First Amendment.

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) disagrees and filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the professor on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.

The NAS President Peter Wood explains, “This isn’t just about a pronoun, it’s about what that pronoun means. It’s about endorsing an ideology. Forcing the use of a pronoun based on gender perceptions rather than sex is forcing the professor to endorse the idea that he rejects—the idea that individuals decide for themselves what sex or gender they are. And this is happening in a philosophy class, where adults should be able to freely and vigorously debate hot-button topics like gender identity.”

The NAS is a leading non-profit advocate of more than 3,000 scholars for intellectual freedom in American higher education.

Dr. Wood continued, “Professor Meriwether teaches philosophy, and he knows that words and language carry meaning—they tell the truth about reality, beliefs, and feelings. Every professor has a fundamental right to choose his own words consonant with the dignity of his students and the integrity of his beliefs. This is a case about university bureaucrats attempting to override the judgment of an experienced and highly regarded faculty member in order to impose a controversial belief of their own. That should never happen in a public university.”

In his appeal to the Sixth Circuit, Professor Meriwether is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an international civil liberties organization. The NAS is pleased to assist ADF and Professor Meriwether in this important case.

The NAS's friend of the court brief is posted here. Full media resources on the case are available from ADF at its Meriwether v. Trustees of Shawnee State media page.

Interview requests may be directed to Chance Layton by email at [email protected].

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Photo from Alliance Defending Freedom, All rights reserved. 

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