First Liberty Institute, a law firm that defends religious liberty for Americans, sent a letter to St. Philip's College in San Antonio on behalf of the professor, Dr. Johnson Varkey, demanding the institution reinstate him after he was fired in January 2023.
"When teaching the human reproductive system, Dr. Varkey also stated that human sex is determined by chromosomes X and Y, and that reproduction must occur between a male and a female to continue the human species," First Liberty stated in its letter. "In the course of teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology, he made these statements in every class for 20 years, without any incident or complaint."
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On November 28, 2022, four of Varkey's students walked out of his class when he stated that sex was determined by X and Y chromosomes, just as he had dozens of times before.
Complaints against Varkey said he has engaged in "religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, anti-abortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter" and that his teaching "pushed beyond the bounds of academic freedom with [his] personal opinions that were offensive to many individuals in the classroom," according to the letter.
Despite the fact that Varkey taught from school-approved and science-based curriculum, St. Philip's College claims his teaching was religious.
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First Liberty argued his teachings are supported by his education and experience in his field, as well as his religious beliefs, but "throughout his employment, he never discussed with any student his personal views—religious or otherwise—on human gender or sexuality."
As an adjunct professor, Varkey taught Human Anatomy and Physiology at St. Philip’s College to more than 1,500 students for 22 years, where he taught the same principles he was fired for this year, according to First Liberty.
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First Liberty said the college is participating in unlawful religious discrimination in employment under the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguing Varkey "believes that he is obligated as a Christian and as a professor to teach accurate, true concepts that comport with his many years of research and study in the field of human biology."
"It is preposterous that, after teaching for more than 20 years, St. Philips would fire Dr. Varkey for teaching basic, widely accepted biology," said Keisha Russell, Counsel for First Liberty Institute, in a statement. "Dr. Varkey received exemplary performance reviews for twenty years, teaching fact-based, widely accepted science. But now that cultural elites are at odds with these ideas, the school no longer supports professors who teach them. The college violated Dr. Varkey’s constitutional and statutory rights when it fired him, and it must reinstate him immediately."