Valdosta State University: Professor Given Ultimatum to Stop Teaching Pedagogically Relevant Lessons in Biology Course


Valdosta State University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On September 8, 2022, Valdosta State University administrators told Professor Leslie Jones to stop teaching pedagogically relevant lessons—including about the differences between sex and gender and that race is a social construct—in her “Evolution and the Diversity of Life” because of complaints from a parent that Jones was teaching “woke shit.” Jones’ dean later reiterated she must stop teaching these lessons because the university must “serv[e] the customer who is paying the bills” and “minimiz[e] controversial situations,” saying the school would move Jones to teach another class unless she changed her approach. On October 28, FIRE wrote VSU explaining that faculty have the academic freedom to select content for classroom instruction, and VSU’s ultimatum that Jones change her teaching style or be removed from the class chills faculty free expression in violation of the First Amendment. On November 10, VSU responded to FIRE that it will address the issue with Jones directly and that it encourages Jones to “ bring this matter before the Grievance Committee.”