Freedom of speech is not free. One university employee learned that the hard way after she was fired for penning an anti-gay op-ed for a local newspaper. Her case went all the way to the Supreme Court, but the high court let stand a decision by a lower court that the university was within its rights to fire her.
Crystal Dixon was let go from her job as associate vice president of human resources at the University of Toledo after her bosses got wind of a controversial editorial she’d written for the Toledo Free Press.
Dixon’s April 2008 op-ed was written in response to an editorial by editor in chief Michael Miller, who maintained that Ohio was behind the curve in providing rights to gays and lesbians. Dixon disagreed with the idea that members of the LGBT community faced discrimination.
“As a black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo’s Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims,’” Dixon wrote. “Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman. I am genetically and biologically a black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle.”
After the op-ed came to light, Dixon was informed by the university president that the opinion she voiced violated the “core values” of the institution. He told Dixon that her opinion, “calls into question your continued ability to lead a critical function within the administration as personnel actions or decisions taken in your capacity as associate vice president for human resources could be challenged or placed at risk. The result is a loss of confidence in you as an administrator.”
Dixon argued that her First amendment rights to free speech had been violated, but a federal judge ruled in favor of the University of Toledo in 2012 and the Supreme Court agreed.