Professor Fired for Teaching Biological Sex as Chromosomal Fact

Professor Fired for Teaching Biological Sex as Chromosomal Fact

An adjunct professor of human anatomy and physiology at a Texas community college has been fired 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 issued an eight-page letter June 20 to St. Philip’s College in San Antonio on behalf of Johnson Varkey, the fired professor, demanding Varkey’s reinstatement to the teaching position he had held at the school since 2003.

“It is preposterous that, after teaching for more than 20 years, St. Philips would fire Dr. Varkey for teaching basic, widely accepted biology,” Keisha Russell, an attorney with First Liberty, stated in a press release. “Dr. Varkey received exemplary performance reviews for 20 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.”

On Nov. 28, four of Dr. 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 has taught his students, without complaint or objection, for two decades. 

But on Jan. 27, 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.”

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

First Liberty contends Varkey’s 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.”

“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.”

First Liberty asserts further that the college is guilty of unlawful religious discrimination in employment under the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while 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.”

In its letter to the college, First Liberty describes 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 states 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.”

First Liberty has asked St. Philip’s College to confirm by July 5 that Varkey will be reinstated to his teaching position for the fall semester or potentially face litigation in federal court.

Photo of Johnson Varkey: Courtesy of First Liberty Institute

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