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Texas College Reinstates Professor Who Says He Was Fired for Teaching Basic Biology on Gender

Steve Warren : Feb 22, 2024  CBN News

In November, he told a class that sex is determined by chromosomes X and Y, a biological fact. A few students walked out of the classroom, leading him to ponder whether this was the catalyst of the complaints at the center of his termination.

[CBN News] An adjunct professor at a Texas college who lost his job after teaching standard principles about human biology and reproduction has been reinstated to his position almost a year after he was let go. (Screengrab image: via Faithwire)

First Liberty Institute, the nonprofit law firm that represented Dr. Johnson Varkey after he was fired from St. Philip's College in San Antonio, Texas, announced a settlement had been reached with the school on Tuesday.

The law firm filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against St. Philip's and the Alamo Community College District (ACCD) earlier this year.

"We are happy that the Alamo Community College District voluntarily reinstated Dr. Varkey," First Liberty Associate Counsel Kayla Toney said in a statement. "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."

The parties reached a favorable settlement which, among other provisions, guarantees that Varkey will be back in the classroom by fall 2024, the law firm said.

CBN News has reached out to the Alamo Community College District for comment. We'll post it here if we hear back.

Professor Claimed He Was Fired after University Officials Found His Biology Teachings Too 'Religious'

Varkey told CBN's Faithwire during an interview in June 2023 that the college informed him of an ethics complaint in January and terminated him just weeks later, purportedly without allowing him to learn the precise reason for his firing.

Furthermore, Varkey said he had no opportunity to offer any defense.

"On the 12th of January, I received an email from the vice president of the department of the school that they are doing an ethics violation investigation on me," he said. "So, I responded to his email and asked him, 'What are the complaints?'"

Varkey said he was told he would hear from human resources but contends that no one contacted him until Jan. 27, when he was given a termination letter.

The professor, who taught more than 1,500 students about human biology since taking the position in 2003, was left to postulate about the root cause of his firing. In November, he told a class that sex is determined by chromosomes X and Y, a biological fact.

A few students walked out of the classroom, leading him to ponder whether this was the catalyst of the complaints at the center of his termination.

Varkey's termination letter reportedly referenced grievances filed against him for "religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, anti-abortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter."

But Varkey said he was "surprised and shocked" by his dismissal. He's been teaching the same realities about the human reproductive system for two decades, and this is reportedly the first time he has experienced a negative reaction.

"I've been teaching for that school for the last 20 years and without any complaints," he said. "So, I was shocked to see that letter."

First Liberty Counsel Keisha Russell told CBN's Faithwire Varkey's case "probably has a lot to do with the new cultural trends on these issues."

"When I saw the termination letter, and I see that the university is accusing him of religious preaching ... I think that what they don't understand is, even if he was, they still can't fire him for saying something that he believes to be true," she said. "One of the things he said was that life begins at conception."

While some might view this as a religious belief, she said it's "scientific," and the professor was speaking from a baseline of "ethical integrity" and "academic integrity."

"It's also protected speech under the First Amendment, so all the way around the university is wrong here," Russell said. "We just think it's a shame that they would fire one of their long-term professors for teaching what he's always taught."

Watch Faithwire's interview with Dr. Varkey HERE:

Members of Congress Called for Investigation after Varkey's Firing Was Reported

In a post to the social media platform X, Rep. Chip Roy's (R-TX) press office wrote, "Rep. Roy & @SenTedCruz are proud to have led a group of lawmakers calling for an investigation into this matter. Teachers should NEVER be punished for teaching the truth."

The group of lawmakers included Roy, Cruz, Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), and Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX). Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News.

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