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College Reinstates Biology Professor Fired for Saying X and Y Chromosomes Determine Sex

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A biology professor who was terminated from a Texas community college for teaching students that X and Y chromosomes determine sex has been reinstated.

First Liberty Institute, a law firm that defends religious liberty for Americans, announced in a press release on Tuesday that St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas, had reinstated Dr. Johnson Varkey. He is a former adjunct professor who was terminated a year after his termination.

The law firm noted that they had filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This was 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,” said Kayla Toney, Associate Counsel for First Liberty Institute.

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“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.”

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First Liberty revealed the parties had reached a “favorable settlement,” which, “among other provisions,” guarantees that Varkey will be back in the classroom teaching by fall 2024.

The law firm previously sent a letter to St. Philip’s College on behalf of Varkey. In the letter, they demanded the institution reinstate him after he was fired in January 2023.

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“When teaching the human reproductive system, Dr. Varkey also stated that human sex is determined by chromosomes X and Y, and that reproduction must occur between a male and a female to continue the human species,” First Liberty stated last June. “In the course of teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology, he made these statements in every class for 20 years, without any incident or complaint.”

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Complaints against Varkey that ultimately led to his firing said he had engaged in “religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, anti-abortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter” and that his teaching “pushed beyond the bounds of academic freedom with [his] personal opinions that were offensive to many individuals in the classroom,” according to a letter from the law firm.

On November 28, 2022, four of Varkey’s students walked out of his class when he stated that X and Y chromosomes determined sex, as he had done dozens of times before. 

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First Liberty argued that his teachings are supported by his education, experience in his field, and his religious beliefs. They also stated that “throughout his employment, he never discussed with any student his personal views—religious or otherwise—on human gender or sexuality.”

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As an adjunct professor, Varkey taught Human Anatomy and Physiology at St. Philip’s College to more than 1,500 students for 22 years. According to First Liberty, he taught the same principles he was fired for this year during this time.

At the time, First Liberty asserted that the college participated in unlawful religious discrimination in employment under the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They argued that Varkey “believes that he is obligated as a Christian and as a professor to teach accurate, true concepts that comport with his many years of research and study in the field of human biology.”

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