College Professor Reinstated After Firing for Teaching Biology

College Professor Reinstated After Firing for Teaching Biology

An adjunct professor of human anatomy and physiology at a Texas community college has been reinstated after being fired last year for teaching that a human’s biological sex is determined by X and Y chromosomes, according to First Liberty Institute, the Plano, Texas, law firm representing the teacher.

First Liberty filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this year against St. Phillip’s College in San Antonio and the Alamo Community College District (ACCD) on behalf of Johnson Varkey.

“We are happy that the Alamo Community College District voluntarily reinstated Dr. Varkey,” said Kayla Toney, associate counsel for First Liberty. “He is excited by this outcome, and we are glad that ACCD did the right thing. Dr. Varkey looks forward to continuing to educate students at ACCD.”

First Liberty stated in a press release that Varkey’s settlement with the school included a guarantee that he will be back in the classroom in the fall.

On Nov. 28, 2022, four of Varkey’s students walked out of his class when he stated that biological sex was determined by chromosomes X and Y—the same basic scientific concepts he had taught to more than 1,500 students, without complaint or objection, for 22 years. 

But on Jan. 27, 2023, 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.”

Even though Varkey taught from school-approved and science-based curriculum, St. Philip’s College alleged that his teaching was religious.

In the wake of Varkey’s firing, First Liberty contended that the college was guilty of unlawful religious discrimination in employment under the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. First Liberty argued that 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.”

In its letter to the college, First Liberty described Varkey as a “devout Christian” who volunteers with his wife as associate pastors at International Bible Church in San Antonio. Varkey also hosts a Bible teaching radio ministry called Rehoboth Voice.

“As an evangelical Christian, Dr. Varkey believes that God created humankind male and female, that one’s sex is ordained by God, that one should love and care for the body that God gave him or her, and that one should not attempt to erase or alter his or her sex, especially through drugs or surgical means,” First Liberty stated in its letter to college administrators. “As a Christian, he also believes that God has ordained the sexual function for procreation, that children are a gift from God, and that, absent a compelling reason, one should not sterilize oneself. Although these are Dr. Varkey’s religious beliefs, he never mentioned them in class. He did not preach any of his beliefs in class. Thus, the allegation that he conducted ‘religious preaching’ is unsubstantiated.”

Photo of Dr. Johnson Varkey / Courtesy of First Liberty Institute

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