One way to beat wokeness is to sue until it gets very expensive

by David Freddoso, Online Opinion Editor

When female swimmers at the University of Pennsylvania told school officials that they did not want to look at Lia Thomas’s penis in the locker room, they were told they could either change clothes alongside the biologically male swimmer or stop using their own women’s locker room.

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When family members told the district attorney, they were ignored. Thomas, who reportedly doesn’t cover up, has been hailed as stunning and brave for using the natural advantages of the male body to trounce female swimmers in NCAA competitions. The biological women on the university’s team have effectively been sidelined in the name of an anti-scientific gender ideology.

That’s wokeness in action — no surprise nowadays. But there may be a remedy. What if this situation suddenly spawns multiple high-dollar sexual harassment lawsuits against the University of Pennsylvania? It isn’t at all hard to imagine such a thing happening. Indeed, it would be hard for any reasonable judge to deny that it’s “sexual harassment” any time anyone ostentatiously flashes male genitalia at a female who doesn’t want to see them. It doesn’t matter what your “gender identity” is — that’s sexual harassment.

This isn’t the only area of potential liability created by wokeness, cancel culture, and transgenderism. University administrators might become a lot less craven about giving in to angry leftist mobs if someone is brave enough to sue them every single time, making it prohibitively expensive to conduct reprisals against those who think freely or believe that biology is a real science. All it will take is enough successful lawsuits, whether they end in judgments or settlements.

One such case has just wrapped with a settlement up at Shawnee State University, Washington Examiner alumna Ashe Schow reports in the Daily Wire. A professor who was punished for calling an otherwise-identifying student “sir” was at first punished with a reprimand.Shawnee philosophy professor Nicholas Meriwether refused to address a male student who identifies as female by the student’s preferred pronouns, instead referring to the student as “sir,” saying that his evangelical Christian beliefs were behind his actions.

“To accede to these demands would have required Dr. Meriwether to communicate views regarding gender identity that he does not hold, that he does not wish to communicate, and that would contradict (and force him to violate) his sincerely held Christian beliefs,” Meriwether wrote in his lawsuit against the school after he was disciplined over the incident.

Although Meriwether’s subsequent lawsuit was initially thrown out at the district level, it was subsequently revived by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Thursday, Alliance Defending Freedom, which was representing Meriwether, announced that the school had agreed to pay out a $400,000 settlement and rescind the reprimand. Even better, Meriwether will never be required by the school to call any student by his or her “preferred pronouns” again.

Ashe used to write a lot for the Washington Examiner about lawsuits launched against colleges that falsely accused men of sexual assault and then threw them out without due process. That trend may be on its way back, too, because President Joe Biden is reviving the bad policy. But in this matter, as in that one, it is important to keep in mind that colleges and universities, no matter how woke they want to be, have an Achilles’ heel: They will always cover their own backsides first when legal liability rears its ugly head.

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This is where a sound judiciary — and I don’t even mean a conservative judiciary, but simply a judiciary that respects basic human rights and academic freedom over totalitarian wokeness in academia — becomes so important going forward.

In so many different areas, we’re all being asked to say that 2+2=5 right now. This is at least one way of resisting constructively.

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