A taxpayer-funded Texas community college has agreed to reinstate a biology professor who was terminated after teaching his students that sex is determined by X and Y chromosomes.

In June, Texas Scorecard reported that Dr. Johnson Varkey, who has taught human anatomy and physiology at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio since 2003, was fired after some of his students complained about his “religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, anti-abortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter.”

The complaints came after four students in his class walked out when he stated that X and Y chromosomes determine sex.

Shortly thereafter, Varkey received a Notice of Discipline and Termination of Employment and Contract letter. The letter claimed that Varkey’s teaching “pushed beyond the bounds of academic freedom with [his] personal opinions that were offensive to many individuals in the classroom.”

First Liberty Institute (FLI), a law firm dedicated to defending religious liberty, sent a letter to St. Philip’s College demanding Varkey be reinstated. The firm then filed a federal religious discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Varkey, claiming the school discriminated against his religious and scientific beliefs. 

According to FLI lawyer Kayla Toney, St. Philip’s College responded to the complaint this year and reinstated Varkey in January. FLI wrote that both parties reached a “favorable settlement, which among other provisions, guarantees that Varkey will be back in the classroom by fall 2024.”

“The college’s willingness to reinstate him with a clear record and acknowledge that he is in good standing shows they recognize he belongs back in the classroom and is an acknowledgement he was teaching basic biology and should be able to continue to do so,” Toney told The Dallas Express.

Toney also told The Dallas Express that although college officials did not apologize to Varkey for the ordeal, they acted in good faith to reinstate him. 

“We are very happy that the Alamo College district decided to do the right thing. Dr. Varkey is excited to be back in the classroom. He really looks forward to teaching students basic biology, just as he has for 20 years,” said Toney.

Texas Scorecard reached out to St. Philip’s College which confirmed that Varkey would return to the classroom in the Fall.

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.