Sunday, August 27, 2023

Legal Battles Over Pronoun Use Gould Soon Land at Supreme Court; Religious Objections Over Pronouns Test High Court’s New Stance

Legal battles over pronoun use could soon land at Supreme Court:
A growing number of lawsuits centering on whether or not public entities can force employees to use a person's preferred pronouns could eventually force the Supreme Court to decide the issue.
The cases are still being litigated at the district and circuit court levels and often revolve around claims of freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and nondiscrimination law, but the ever-growing number of lawsuits has conservative lawyers expecting an eventual date with the Supreme Court.
Tyson Langhofer, a senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, told the Washington Examiner that there are an increasing number of cases centered on pronoun use and that they are becoming especially prevalent in K-12 public schools as several teachers have lost their jobs after invoking religious beliefs that prohibit them from using pronouns and names that do not correspond to a transgender student's claimed gender identity.
Proponents of the policies say that refusing to accommodate a student's preferred pronouns would have a substantially negative impact on the student's emotional well-being and would violate federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in education settings. But Langhofer and others argue that such policies amount to compelled speech and violate the right to freedom of speech and religious exercise.
"I do believe that the Supreme Court is going to have to weigh in on this if schools continue adopting these policies, which it appears that they're doing," the attorney said.
The Alliance Defending Freedom is currently litigating multiple cases for plaintiffs who have faced professional consequences for refusing or saying that they would refuse to use pronouns that did not conform to a person's biological sex.
In April, Shawnee State University settled a lawsuit with ADF client Nicholas Meriwether, a professor of philosophy who refused to refer to a biologically male student as a female. The university settled the case after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Meriwether and said the public university could force ideological conformity among faculty. --->READ MORE HERE
Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images 
Religious Objections Over Pronouns Test High Court’s New Stance
A revived legal dispute over a Christian music teacher’s refusal to use students’ preferred names and pronouns will offer an early test of the US Supreme Court’s new standard for religious accommodations in the workplace.
John Kluge sued Brownsburg Community School Corp. after it rescinded a faith-based accommodation that allowed him to refer to all students exclusively by their last names. He lost his discrimination case under decades-old high court precedent that gave employers more leeway in denying religious requests that pose a minimal hardship on operations.
But the justices in June revamped how courts should analyze religious accommodations, making them more difficult for employers to reject. Now Kluge’s case is heading back to an Indiana federal court, which will reasses his claims under the Supreme Court’s unanimous Groff v. Dejoy decision.
Attorneys, however, say the nation’s top jurists didn’t leave clear guidance on when a religious accommodation will constitute a “substantial” burden on an employer under Groff.
It’s an issue that will become increasingly important to clarify as more courts grapple with religious job requests and pronoun use in school settings and private work sites—one of several clashes between religious rights and LGBT anti-discrimination protections that continue to proliferate.
“We’re in a very politically divisive area right now on this topic and so I think different courts may decide this very differently,” said Patricia Pryor, an attorney with Jackson Lewis P.C. “Eventually we’ll be back at the Supreme Court asking for further clarification.” --->READ MORE HERE
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