Fired biology professor sues former employer

Fired biology professor sues former employer

Fired biology professor sues former employer

After a Texas community college ignored a demand to rehire fired professor Dr. Johnson Varkey, he plans to sue his former employer and accuse the school of religious discrimination over his termination.

Dr. Varkey had been teaching biology courses for 20 years at St. Philip's College, located in San Antonio, until his standard lecture about the human body clashed with left-wing dogma, he alleges. Last fall, during a class discussion about biology, four students walked out in protest after Varkey said biological sex is determined by the X and Y chromosomes.

Varkey, Dr. Johnson Varkey

Months later, in January, the professor received an official termination of employment letter that cited “numerous complaints” against him about his “religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, anti-abortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter.”

The professor’s classroom teaching, the letter further stated, went “beyond the bounds of academic freedom” and was “offensive” to many of his students.

St. Philips College, which is home to approximately 11,500 students, is a historically black school that dates back to the 1890s. Dr. Varkey is also black.

On behalf of the professor, First Liberty Institute sent a letter to St. Philip's College urging the school to reconsider on the basis of federal and state laws that protect him from retaliation for his beliefs.  

"The college has not responded,” says First Liberty attorney Kayla Toney, “so we plan to litigate on behalf of the professor.”

AFN reached out to St. Philip's College for comment and was told the Alamo Colleges District, which oversees the school, “does not comment on personnel matters or pending or threatened litigation."

Toney, Kayla (First Liberty) Toney

Some reports have suggested Dr. Varkey, a trained church leader, was preaching in his classroom but Toney says the professor “never taught religion in class.”

That statement does not mean the biological professor never discussed religion or his own religious views in class, which he appears to have done. That topic is unwelcomed on many college campuses but allowed by the First Amendment. Most college students who have sat in a classroom, in fact, have probably heard a professor discuss religion, which is usually a rant against it and a mockery of those who are religious.

In the case of Dr. Varkey, First Liberty alleges its client is the victim of religious hostility.

“We think that Dr. Varkey's faith has a lot to do with the hostility he experienced, even though he never taught religion in class,” Toney tells AFN, “and the college is the one that made this about religion since he was just teaching basic biology."