Reaching out to Secular Students with Kevin Bolling

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Our Guest

Kevin Bolling

Kevin Bolling is the executive director of the Secular Student Alliance. He has served in that position since 2017. Kevin brings with him 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience. His career has included over 10 years of student association management and on-campus program development from Los Angeles to Boston.

Secular Student Alliance
Generation Z and Religion – The Most Recent Data

LTR:Tell the other side (can view it here as well)
First Amendment case, settlement, should put brakes on gender policy, says UT professor (read it as well)
Editorial: Gender policy shouldn’t cancel others’ rights (read it here as well)
Shawnee State professor’s lawsuit could have ramifications for preferred pronoun use and more

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Kevin Bolling 0:00
So and our values as an organization. So, I think, you know, we really look at sort of community and lifelong friendships, critical thinking and reason, equality and inclusion, activism and civic, civic engagement, and then just bettering our lives and communities. So those are sort of the core values from our organization. And I think as, as a larger secular community, we all look at the separation of church and state and just and invoking Critical Thinking it just in everything that we do,

Doug Berger 0:34
Kevin Bolling faced the biggest challenge he’s faced as executive director of the Secular Student Alliance, he had to manage the group through the pandemic, and then resume regular support. Once the schools opened back up. SSA launched a massive effort to reach 1.4 million students in this country. He will tell us how SSA did it, and what is in store for the group. Lastly, we take a look at a recent court case where a professor settled a lawsuit over refusing to use the preferred pronouns of his students, and how that case is really about him, and others that attempt to needlessly erase LGBTQ people. I’m Doug Berger. And this is secular left.

Doug Berger 1:35
All right, our guest today is Kevin Bolling. He’s the Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. He served in that position since 2017. He brings 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience. And with over 10 years of student association management, and on campus program development, from Los Angeles to Boston. Thank you for joining us today, Kevin.

Kevin Bolling 1:58
It’s my pleasure to be here with you today.

Doug Berger 2:01
And just for people that may not know what Secular Student Alliance is, what’s its mission? And what does it do.

Kevin Bolling 2:08
The mission of the organization is to empower secular students or non religious students to proudly express their identities, build welcoming communities, promote secular values, and to set a course for lifelong activism. And so sort of how we do that is obviously we’re a national nonprofit organization. But at the heart of our organization, is student chapters in middle schools, high schools and colleges, all across the country. And so it’s a students working on their individual campuses, and meeting the needs of their students and bettering their communities is what really makes our organization powerful.

Doug Berger 2:49
And so after the limitation that you went through, a lot of groups went through because of the pandemic. What exactly did you do to once the campuses and schools started opening back up?

Kevin Bolling 3:03
Sure. So yeah, March, I think, 2019, I think it was or 2020 campuses across the country schools across the country, as everyone’s well familiar with closed. And for us, the vast majority of our students are, are non religious, coming from religious families. So about 80% of our students come from religious families. So we did a complete turnaround in all of our programs, because we realized that, you know, Christian students went home, went home, from their religious communities on campus to their religious communities and families at home. Our students primarily went from their secular non religious friends, to religious communities. So we opened it up and did a variety of support for them, webinars, and Hangouts and fun social things all virtually, like pretty much everyone else did across the country during that time, but we really wanted to be there for our students who now no longer had this sort of friend group or network to be able to have that sort of virtually, with with, you know, obviously, with other students across the country. So coming, you know, sort of coming out of sort of COVID We were really expecting last fall, as sort of campus is wrapping up to have a huge push, and we were all ready for that was supplies and everything that we do free for our students. And then delta came along, which sort of really, you know, turned a wrench and everyone’s plans. But this spring has been amazing. So our students have been really coming back on campus getting super active in person events, programs, again, doing their organizing, and in parts, we launched a huge campaign to outreach to about 1.4 million students. And so we picked the far five largest public universities and colleges and each state’s and tried to and requested their their invitation to reach out to the students directly. And so we did a huge email campaign to every student on a variety of campuses all across the country. And some we didn’t have email addresses for us. And we, we sent text if we had telephone numbers, and some cases, we mailed US students information. So what am I in Connecticut, we had students mailing addresses, so we sent the postcards, letting them know about your organization, but more importantly, our primary focus was to really educate students on just the growing number of non religious students all across the country, and how quickly that is growing.

Doug Berger 5:39
And is there a significant growth in the numbers of secular and non religious students in this country?

Kevin Bolling 5:46
There is Ryan Burge, in 2020, released his sort of report that looked at the growing population, and fairly fast growing population of non religious students, or non religious youth. So college age and younger, within the United States. And so it wasn’t that long ago that the general population about one in five of the general population was non religious. More recently, you know, it’s been about one in four, I think we’re up to like 39% of the general population right now is, is non religious. So but for youth, it’s almost double that of the general population. So we’re talking almost 50%, now of the youth in the United States identifies as non religious. And then of course, that’s all a huge encompassing, you know, lots of different terms in there of how they identify. But that’s some real fast movements in a very short period of time.

Doug Berger 6:43
And did you get quite a bit of response back from the outreach?

Kevin Bolling 6:47
We did, as I mentioned, we emailed you know, an entire campus population. So let’s say about half of the students were non religious and about half were religious. So we got some, yes, some interesting responses back in both directions, but a lot of positive information back. And so students who were, you know, even in big campuses, I didn’t realize that there were this many non religious students, this is great. So what you know, and then, of course, asking us about what we do as an organization, asking how to start a chapter, asking if there’s other students on their campus that they can get involved in. And so clearly, that was, besides the information about the growing number of non religious, a big part of our component was also doing outreach, non religious students knew that we existed, and that we’re there to help them.

Doug Berger 7:38
I was reading up on some of the materials that about this big push and in some of the efforts that SSA is going through, when you talk about normalizing non religion and secular values, what exactly do you mean?

Kevin Bolling 7:53
Well, I think one point is we want, you know, for Christian students, or religious students who have never thought about, that there are a lot of non religious students, we want them to, we want them to think about that. We want them to know that they probably have lots of friends who are non religious, whether they just don’t go to church anymore, or they’re, you know, agnostic, or, you know, they’re Yeah, they really don’t like religion, because they’ve been harmed from it by what some of organized religion has done, especially the LGBT students. So and our values as an organization, so I think, you know, we really look at sort of our community and lifelong friendships, critical thinking and reason, equality and inclusion, activism, and civic, civic engagements, and then just bettering our lives and communities. So those are sort of the core values from our organization. And I think as a larger secular community, we all look at the separation of church and state, and just and invoking critical thinking and just everything that we do.

Doug Berger 9:04
For more information about any of the topics covered in this episode, check out our show notes at secular

Doug Berger 9:17
Now we’ve seen in the news recently, there’s been some widespread attacks by Christian nationalists on public schools, colleges, with their don’t say gay bills and banning books. And they’ve been going after opportunities to be inclusive of other minority groups and people that have been suppressed in the past. What problems do you see from those kinds of attacks? Have you experienced anything that that you could talk about?

Kevin Bolling 9:49
We’re actually currently still in a lawsuit with the Department of Education. And so, Betsy DeVos when she was in with Trump administration, they put out policies or Sorry, recommendations, that sort of that indicated that they were fine with religious students who received student activity fee money, being able to discriminate against other students, their primary attack as it was with LGBT students, but also, of course of other religious students and students of non religion. And so we’re currently in in a lawsuit with the Department of Education, helped by our friends at American Atheist and freedom from or sorry, American, united for the separation of church and state. And we’re hoping that some new recommendations from the Biden administration will be released soon that undo that, but I think you’re, you’re sort of highlighting some of the, the current things that are happening, you know, in Florida, and Texas and Ohio, just with what’s happening, and I think you sort of mentioned that it’s sort of looked at, we’re gonna go after, we’re gonna go after issues of race, because we don’t want white people to feel uncomfortable, we’re gonna, then we’re gonna go after LGBT students, and you can’t, you know, and to do that don’t say, gay bill, we’re really gonna go after trans students just across the board and sports and bathrooms and just everyday life. And I think it’s very easy for us to see the big Root of All That Is as a sort of his Christian nationalism, and just religious dogma coming into our political sphere, which is against the separation of church and state. And unfortunately, we don’t have a very, we don’t have a Supreme Court who thinks that that ideal should be held up.

Doug Berger 11:40
And I know this gonna sound like I’m backtracking a little bit, but what kind of positive messages do you hope to get out to the stupid student population about SSA?

Kevin Bolling 11:53
And I think there’s about SSA, and there’s just about being nonreligious it just in general. So some of the things that we sort of promoted to the things was just, here’s here’s information and looking at morals and values, and how those come across. And so a lot of that is discussed in someone’s some of Ryan’s work. So where, you know, non religious peoples have morals and values, which is a common, of course, you know, stereotype and misconception about non religious people. The not just the sheer number of non religious people is oftentimes a huge eye opener for people. We also looked at, you know, promoting our scholarships that we offer to secular student activists, and again, separation of church and state, what are you doing in your intersexual activism? And how are you making your communities better? So sort of each program that we offer, we sort of continue to highlight our mission and our values in those sorts of things, which I think is a great message to all students and people like, Yeah, we’re good people. And we’re looking to do good things, why we’re on this earth.

Doug Berger 12:59
Just this past week, we had a college professor at Shawnee state, southern Ohio, when $400,000 in damages and the right not to use desired pronouns with the students that he’s teaching. Is, is there any way that an SSA chapter could could address that? Or what would a student do if if they came upon a professor that ignored their preferred pronouns?

Kevin Bolling 13:26
Yeah, and I think we’re actually working with American Atheists, we’re gonna start working on a student’s student rights to know. So and looking at some of the issues of what what are my rights, you know, especially with all the bills that are current taking place, obviously, the ones in Florida that are being you know, sort of impacted and copied and other states. So, you know, what are my rights with preferred pronouns? What are my rights to have a GSA meeting, a gay straight alliance meeting or a gay pride, student organization on campus, like, are those sorts of things in jeopardy? Unfortunate there’s there are lots of laws that protect students, the way they want to be identified those things. And there’s also campus policies that talk about treating students with dignity and respect, and sort of the campus environment. So we’re going to be developing some resources to have that out, which I think will be useful to non religious students, to LGBT students, for minority religion students, so making sure they know what their rights are. And then Americans United for the separation of church actually has a great freedom of religion sort of aspect for public schools, and their rights, no, which is is located on their website, which is also some fantastic resources from students and young people also.

Doug Berger 14:49
And do you see these kinds of court cases like with that professor, where Christian nationalists are privileged further increasing, or and if so, what can we do about it? As SSA and non religious people,

Kevin Bolling 15:04
I do think with a Supreme Court that is obviously stacked to, to look at to de evolve LGBT rights to break down the wall of separation of church and state to damage women’s reproductive health rights, on, you know, on and on climate climate change. And the fact that I think, you know, the, the Trump administration, working with conservative religious groups stacked the courts lower courts to be favorable for those two things. So I think for people who want to impact and put their religious views into our political or our public society, this is a prime time for them to do that. They’re taking advantage of it. And I definitely think that we’ll see more. And, you know, for all of us to be to be activists, to, you know, and you know, email your, your senator and your representatives, to be publicly active to go out and protest and make sure that people understand that our values are important to us, is important to do. And so there are numerous organizations which have actual alerts, which you can sign up for, and they will tell you about things in your own state or federal aid, that are easy things for you to get involved with are easy things to do conversations that you can have on campus, and we provide funds for our our chapters to have those conversations are all important things for us to be doing.

Doug Berger 16:40
And if there, if there’s a student out here, they are listening to this episode, and wanted to be involved with SSA, what should they do?

Kevin Bolling 16:48
Easiest thing to do is one look on your college campus. So you know, there’s a list of organizations, there may be an SSA already there or under a slightly different name. So but a non religious student organization, join them get involved. If not, you know, the other the easy thing to do is go to our website, secular And we have a you know, find a chapter or join. And we also offer free student memberships. So sign up for a membership. And we’ll start setting you know the students information about our programs, and also information about what’s happening on a variety of campuses and ways to get involved. So we have lots of free resources and easy resources at our website.

Doug Berger 17:33
I know it can be a challenge challenge to be an executive director of a large organization like SSA. But do you think that dealing with the pandemic probably was your biggest challenge to date?

Kevin Bolling 17:48
I think that pandemic was a challenge for businesses, for our society for nonprofits, definitely. Working with college students and students were everyone was sent home was obviously a huge challenge. We I quickly realized that this wasn’t going away. You know, we were all hoping I think like you’re gonna be home for like a month, which clearly was not half what happens. But we actually developed a COVID year strategic plan that went for 18 months. And I think fortunately, we fairly hit our points, pretty good. And that acted as a pretty good guide. So we actually came out. And with, you know, with lots of support from people in the secular movement, we actually came out of the pandemic stronger, organizationally, offering more programs, doing things differently, that we’re allowed to impact a lot of students in chapters and individual students and students who are at home and students who are on campus, and then also financially stronger. So not that I would ever want to go through that again. But we really doubled down during that time and came out of it, I think doing more doing things better and as a stronger organization.

Doug Berger 19:06
And what what issue if there’s like a specific issue, or several issues that are most challenging for student groups today that you’re aware of.

Kevin Bolling 19:20
So I think one of the things that we continue to see, since students have come back from the pandemic, I think it’s been less, but there has been an increased intolerance and animus towards non religious students from primarily conservative students on campuses. And so, while we have seen you know, since we’ve coming back that decrease a little bit, I still think that’s a huge issue. Part and again, part of our campaign to help normalize non religion on campus and that being important, and I think it’s for many students now it’s after being home for almost two years. Coming back and rebuilding, rebuilding those organizations rebuilding those friendships building sort of all the programs that they had on campus to really to impact the campus. So we’re obviously there to support the students with free resources and supplies and those sorts of things. And we’re fortunate to have donors who support us and allow us to do that.

Doug Berger 20:23
And finally, as we as we wrap up today, what wisdom or final thoughts would you like to leave us with?

Kevin Bolling 20:31
I think that there, it’s, it’s easy to look at our society and to feel a little depressed, over, I think, multiple things, in working with students. And seeing what they’re doing and their energy and their excitement and their activism. I think it’s really promising. And I’m excited about what’s coming up not only for the secular movement, but for our society in general. So they are rejecting a lot of their religious dogma. They’re rejecting a lot of the hypocrisy in politics and just in society in general. And they’re not putting up with it. So I think we will, as they become more and more active politically, and socially, we will see that difference. So I think that’s super exciting. And I will say we just found out this last week that one of our previous student leaders is running for state representative in Florida. So she is Sarah. Yeah, Sarah Henry, you can go check her out and Florida. First State Representative. But yeah, so that’s super exciting, like our students are doing really positive things. And again, all of those values that she had with her and as she learned with being with SSA, are gonna carry with her and let’s be real, we can use that in Florida.

Doug Berger 21:56
All right. Was there anything else that I that you wanted to get out that I may have missed or asking you about? Anything?

Kevin Bolling 22:06
So I think we’ve hit on a lot of great topics. And I appreciate you being here with you today, I think a big thing and people are looking to support non religious youth, please go to our website, there’s a Donate button that’s really easy to find. And please, you know, please donate. So it’s our donors who allow us to help students and we know that more and more students are non religious, and we know that they’re they’re facing increased harassment and rejection. So this is a really great way to help non religious students, because let me I can tell you for sure, the religious community is doing it for religious students. Oh, we did it make sure that that we need to make sure that we’re all there for non religious students.

Doug Berger 22:49
All right. Well, thank you again for your time. And we appreciate you stopping by.

Kevin Bolling 22:53
I appreciate that. As always, thank you very much.

Doug Berger 22:58
Hello, this is Doug host of secular left reminding you that I like to be validated. If you liked this podcast and want to thank me, feel free to buy me a coffee, go to buy me a lab and donate some cash to help make this a better show and validate me as a person. You’ll feel better in the morning.

Doug Berger 23:26
In the previous segment, we had been talking with Kevin bowling from Secular Student Alliance. And one of the questions I was asking him about was about the recent case of a professor college professor who had won a large monetary settlement from a college after getting reprimanded for refusing to use a student’s preferred pronoun in class. It was a federal court case. And what had happened was that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that his rights may have been violated. And they were going to allow that lawsuit to continue. I kind of wanted to talk about that before, like in the last episode, I had a segment that I had recorded, talking about the case. But I didn’t quite, I didn’t quite have my thoughts in sync with what I wanted to talk about. So there was an editorial that came out in the local paper. And that really caused me basically I wrote a letter to the editor, and I kind of wanted to talk about what I talked about in that letter. Let me put this in perspective. This professor is at Shawnee State University, Shawnee State University. It’s in southern Ohio. He is a teacher of philosophy. I think and ethics maybe or something like that. His name is Nicholas Merriweather. And in class one day, he referred to a trans woman as sir. And after class, this woman came up to him and politely asked him, that she would rather that he referred to her by she or her. He refused to do so. And in fact, I couldn’t find it. But I read another article where he called her Mr. Or sir, again, after she had already talked to him. So the student filed a complaint. Say it was a hostile environment. And it went through the investigation process in the university and, and he was found that that professor did, in fact, refuse to use the preferred pronoun, he violated university policy that has non discrimination for gender identity. He claimed that he has religious belief forbid him from referring to people who were born as male as women. That’s a dubious claim. But that’s the claim that he made. And that’s how, and so he was reprimanded. And he filed a lawsuit in federal court. And in the initial court, the district court, he lost, they ruled in favor of the school. So of course, one of these right wing groups, Alliance Defending Freedom or so something like that got on his bandwagon. And or they’ve been helping, you know, since the beginning since he sued. And this was, this is what originally in 2018, when this happened, and so the that this lawsuit has been going through the courts since then, and it was just the settlement was in April of this year 2022. Anyway, so he filed an appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. And the three judge panel ruled in his favor. And they said that, that he had that Merriweather had claimed that his rights first amendment rights were violated, and that the date the court agreed that his rights may have been violated. And so that they said that the lawsuit should not have been dismissed, and it should continue. So after that happened, then Shawnee state went into negotiations for a settlement. You know, this happens all the time, not just colleges. But businesses do this all the time, that when they’re in a lawsuit, whether they’re right or wrong. Sometimes it’s cheaper for them to settle out of court. I think that this was probably

Doug Berger 27:57
the choice that the school made, that it was easier for them to settle the case rather than continue the lawsuit. And it was going to be cheaper, ultimately be cheaper. So they settled the lawsuit. The professor God had approximately $400,000 in cash, had the letter of reprimand removed from his file. And he was specifically allowed in the agreement to continue being a jerk and class and refer to students however he wanted to refer them to that part of the settlement I don’t agree with but that’s what happened since the school wanted to settle. So it kind of right up the settlements been getting a ride up across the right wing, fever dream fantasy machine, like Fox News, and the professor has been on Fox News a couple times and Breitbart and all those good, good fascists, websites have been writing up about it saying See, see, they shouldn’t be you know, these these liberals, these lib shouldn’t be forcing professors to call them by their preferred pronoun. That’s, that’s against the Constitution, all this bullshit. So our local paper that Toledo Blade had an article about it on April the 29th. The reporter was Jeff Smucker. And I didn’t like the coverage and so this initially got started where I was writing an email, email complaint to the reporter and he evolved into a letter to the editor instead. But basically the he got the reporting almost completely wrong. He got the narrative wrong. He bought into Mary weathers fantasy that that he had been vindicated, and that personal pronoun policies would go in the toilet. And the reason why they were covering it in the Wait is because the University of Toledo is considering such a policy to require employees to refer to students by their preferred pronoun when when they know them. And, and so everybody is just up in arms. So this this reporter, interviewed this. He was dubbed in the paper. And this is true. He’s a University of Toledo law professor, his name is Lee Strang. And so Lee Strang was given his opinion, which pretty much messed with the Alliance Defending Freedom part that this court case this decision in the Sixth Circuit would cause should cause the University of Toledo to pause on their attempt to institute this policy. Now, I didn’t agree with that. That direction anyway, because that’s not what the court case said. The court case was that, that the professors, the professor’s rights may have been violated that he had cause to file a lawsuit, and that the lawsuit should continue. That’s all the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said they weren’t deciding on the merits, they did put in their merits. But But why they thought that his rights had been violated. But that’s for the trial court then to decide. And so it would have gone back to the district court for a trial. So that’s the first thing string out wrong. The second thing that string got wrong, was the fact that the reporter never identified Lee Strang as a libertarian conservative spokesperson. You know, this is somebody to and this is a note, note that I initially included, but didn’t in a letter to the editor, that PROFESSOR STRANG sued the state of Ohio to end the mask mandates and public schools, back during the during the heart of the pandemic, when that was really the only thing protecting children wear masks. And and he’s just a really strong libertarian, and he didn’t identify in that way.

Doug Berger 32:14
The other part that I had a concern about in that article, too, not only did they get the narrative of the case wrong, but they did not include the other side of the story. They didn’t get any quotes from LGBT people about why it is important for professors to use preferred pronouns in, in the schools. So anyway, the whole this whole article on April, the 29th, seemed like the reporter was just a stenographer for Lee strings, ideas about using personal pronouns. Okay. So that’s what you know, and I started writing a letter to the reporter in an email to the reporter complaining about it. Then on May the first, the Toledo Blade itself issued an editorial on the issue. And, and it was just like a rehash of the article on April the 29th. In that, they came down on the side of the professor saying the professor’s rights had been violated. They restated the narrative that Lee string and then they even quoted Lee string extensively. And also they got the narrative wrong on the case again, and they didn’t include any voices from the LGBT Q community at all. Well, I guess you wouldn’t expect that in the in the editorial but the editorial they went out of their way to say that the blade has in the past, supported LGBT, the LGBTQ community by supporting same sex marriage and you know, when that came up 10 years ago, so I had, that pretty much precipitated me to write a letter to the editor and I kind of wanted to I know is I’ve gone a long way to get there. But this letter to the editor was published on May the fifth on page 86 of the Toledo Blade. I wanted to write about some concerns about the recent story about their professor who settled a court case over refusing to use the preferred gender pronouns of the students he taught. And then I gave the titles First Amendment case settlement will put brakes on gender policy says ut professor on April the 29th, and the blade editorial gender policy shouldn’t cancel other’s rights on May the first the first point is the Merriweather case wasn’t a resolution to his lawsuit. The Sixth Circuit ruled his rights were likely violated, so his lawsuit shouldn’t be dismissed. These are the same judges who ruled during the The lockdown that Catholic schools were equal to liquor stores and casinos. When deciding what was an essential business. Shawnee state decided to settle the lawsuit. Mr. Merriweather and his supporters like conservatively Strang quoted extensively in the story and editorial, as if he was just a neutral legal observer, claim that the professor was just being professional and adhering to his religious beliefs that a man born a man is always male. So will the blade editorial staff support calling any woman misses, like the old days when any lone woman in public had to be married or it was a scandal. The professor was asked to call the student by their preferred pronouns. That didn’t mean the student wanted the professor to renounce his God and flee to a commune, or whatever 1950s idea people like Mr. Merriweather believes happens when they are asked to be a decent human being. The professor refused to do it. And when did the notion of simply referring to a person how they want to be called turns into a scene from The Patriot with buckshot and cannonballs wasn’t by Mr. Merriweather Mr. Strang as they defend their freedom. And where was the other side to the story? Just like Mr. Merriweather and Mr. Strang attempt to erase LGBTQ people, the blade has a funny way of claiming they support LGBTQ people, by not including them in their story and editorial. How is that not also wrong? And that’s the thing. You know, it you know, I get I get people saying, well, I shouldn’t have to be forced to call somebody by what they want to be called. But that’s just basic human dignity. You know, if you see a black person, you wouldn’t call them colored, you definitely wouldn’t call him the N word. And if you think that you have a First Amendment right to do that you’re wrong. You know, especially if you’re you’re employed by a college that is trying to be inclusive.

Doug Berger 37:09
You don’t have a right to call student, whatever you want to call, call them. This Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision had nothing to do with the merits of the case, just that his rights may have been violated, and, and it should go to trial. That’s how I said, one of one of the takes by a real professor, someone, someone who has a more neutral legal observation, said this in the Columbus Dispatch, which actually had a better write up of this whole case. This professor said, the idea that there is a free speech right to say absolutely anything in the classroom, no matter how offensive it is to a student just can’t possibly be true. And I don’t believe the federal courts will follow up on it. So to Andrew Koppelman, the john paul Stephens, Professor of Law and a political science professor and constitutional law expert at Northwestern University, who’s been following this case closely. Koppelman said the Sixth Circuit’s decision has the potential to lead to blatant racism and sexism on college campuses. The principle announced by the Sixth Circuit would apply equally to a professor, who, from time to time addressed African American students by the inward or her refuse to call on African American students, or who refuse to call on women, because he thought that neither of those groups ought to participate in class discussion. Yeah, and that’s true. That’s exactly right. Because if, if this principle was allowed to go forward, then then any professor or any instructor could say it, you know, hide behind their religious beliefs, and not have to treat anybody equally. Now, the professor claims he was treating people, he was treating all males as male. And that’s just a ridiculous argument. You know, it shouldn’t be by group, it should be by individual. And this individual wanted you to use her. And she, because they are a trans woman. And what’s even more amazing about this case, is that Shawnee state didn’t have a specific preferred pronoun policy. All they had was a general discriminate, you know, discrimination policy, based on gender identity, which this guy violated, he violated that policy by creating a hostile environment for this trans woman. And so I that that’s what led me to write that letter to the editor. And no one can argue with me and tell me or give me any reason that you shouldn’t use preferred pronouns and I guess maybe that makes me weird. because I’ve never had a problem with that, you know, a lot of times unless I specifically know somebody is male or female, I use they in them. I just naturally do that. And so I think that this guy this Merriweather, Nicholas Merriweather was just being a dick and, and the student of his had to suffer, and now he gets to be a dick all the time. So, you know, rather than running him out of town, I hope that students at Shawnee state just stop taking his class, because if he can’t get anybody to take his class, then they can’t keep him around, because he doesn’t need to be teaching students.

Doug Berger 40:46
Thank you for listening to this episode. You can check out more information, including links to sources used in our show notes on our website at secular Secular left is hosted, written and produced by Doug Berger, and he is solely responsible for the content. Send us your comments, either using the contact form on the website or by sending us a note at comments at secular Our theme music is dank and nasty composed using amplify studio. See you next time.

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Secular Left © 2021 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.


Produced, written, and edited by Doug Berger

Our theme music is “Dank & Nasty” Composed using Ampify Studio

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