As issues in higher education continue to be uncovered, a biology professor at a taxpayer-funded Texas community college was allegedly fired for teaching his students that sex is determined by X and Y chromosomes.

Dr. Johnson Varkey has taught human anatomy and physiology at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio to more than 1,500 students since 2003. In his 20 years of teaching, he never received any complaints.

Varkey states in his lectures that when a sperm joins an egg, a zygote is formed, and life starts when the zygote begins to divide—not when a baby is born. However, that was not what pushed students to complain.

In November 2022, four of Varkey’s students walked out of his classroom after he stated that sex was determined by X and Y chromosomes.

A couple of months later, Varkey received an email from Randall Dawson, vice president for academic success at St. Philip’s College, saying there had been a complaint filed against him.

About two weeks later, he received a Notice of Discipline and Termination of Employment and Contract letter.

According to the letter, the complaints included several reports of “religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, anti-abortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter.” The letter also claimed that his teaching “pushed beyond the bounds of academic freedom with [his] personal opinions that were offensive to many individuals in the classroom.”

First Liberty Institute, a law firm dedicated to defending religious liberty for all Americans, sent a letter to St. Philip’s College demanding Varkey be reinstated. The firm’s letter stated that the college violated the free speech clause in the First Amendment and that “the First Amendment prohibits a speech code for professors, especially regarding classroom speech.”

“It is preposterous that, after teaching for more than 20 years, St. Philips would fire Varkey for teaching basic, widely accepted biology,” said Keisha Russell, counsel for First Liberty Institute. “Dr. Varkey received exemplary performance reviews for twenty years, teaching fact-based, widely accepted science. But now that cultural elites are at odds with these ideas, the school no longer supports professors who teach them. The college violated Dr. Varkey’s constitutional and statutory rights when it fired him, and it must reinstate him immediately.”

First Liberty Institute says the issue is time-sensitive. If the college doesn’t provide written assurances saying they will reinstate Varkey by July 5, 2023, the firm will proceed by seeking redress in federal court against the college and other responsible parties.

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.