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].


Photo from Alliance Defending Freedom, All rights reserved. 

  • Share

Most Commented

May 7, 2024


Creating Students, Not Activists

The mobs desecrating the American flag, smashing windows, chanting genocidal slogans—this always was the end game of the advocates of the right to protest, action civics, student activ......

March 9, 2024


A Portrait of Claireve Grandjouan

Claireve Grandjouan, when I knew her, was Head of the Classics Department at Hunter College, and that year gave a three-hour Friday evening class in Egyptian archaeology....

April 20, 2024


The Academic's Roadmap

By all means, pursue your noble dream of improving the condition of humanity through your research and teaching. Could I do it all again, I would, but I would do things very differently....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

September 21, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What Does YHWH Elohim Mean?

A reader asks, "If Elohim refers to multiple 'gods,' then Yhwh Elohim really means Lord of Gods...the one of many, right?" A Hebrew expert answers....