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First Liberty Institute filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas on behalf of Dr. Johnson Varkey, a former adjunct professor, after the San Antonio public community college fired him for teaching standard principles about human biology and reproduction.

You can read the charge here.

“No college professor should be fired for teaching factual concepts that a handful of students don’t want to hear,” said Keisha Russell, Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “Dr. Varkey received exemplary performance reviews for nearly two decades, 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. It is a blatant violation of state and federal civil rights laws to discriminate against someone because of their religious beliefs.”

In his role as an adjunct professor, Dr. Varkey taught Human Anatomy and Physiology to more than 1,500 students since 2004. During Dr. Varkey’s twenty-year employment as a biology professor at St. Philip’s College, he received positive student feedback and was never disciplined.

In November 2022, a handful of Dr. Varkey’s students walked out of his class when he stated, consistent with his study of human biology, that sex was determined by chromosomes X and Y.  In two decades of teaching these basic, scientific concepts, no other students ever complained.  But on January 27, 2023, Dr. Varkey received a Notice of Discipline and Termination of Employment and Contract letter stating that the school “received numerous complaints” about his “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.” Dr. Varkey taught from school-approved and science-based curriculum, but the college claims his teaching was religious.

In the EEOC charge, Dr. Varkey states, “St. Philip’s College engaged in disparate treatment that violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it terminated me because of my sincerely held religious beliefs and protected speech. The only reason the College gave for firing me was the student complaint(s) of ‘religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, antiabortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter.’ Ex D. While I never preached or proselytized in class, the accusation of religious preaching was clearly in connection with the fact that I serve as an associate pastor. I would mention this by way of introduction at the beginning of each semester, so my students were aware. The College assumed I was preaching rather than teaching due to negative, discriminatory stereotypes about Christians. This perception was inaccurate and discriminatory.”

Author: Press Release


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