Lawsuit: College 'demoted, harassed,' then 'effectively fired' psychology prof for 'conservative' gender views

Attorneys for a University of Louisville psychology professor filed a federal lawsuit against the school last week saying their client was "demoted, harassed, and then effectively fired" for his "conservative" views on gender, according to Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal outfit.

What's the background?

ADF said the university hired Dr. Allan M. Josephson in 2003 as chief of the "then-struggling" Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, which he turned around, "building a program that now has a national reputation." Josephson, the suit says, has been a medical doctor since 1976 and has built an international reputation since that time.

Josephson also has served as an expert witness in numerous cases involving gender dysphoria in children and adolescents and has held the view that sex is binary and fixed at birth — and that parents should help their children feel more comfortable with their biological gender through therapy, the suit says. Josephson also was a panelist for The Heritage Foundation, a conservative group, in the fall of 2017 on the topic of treating youth with gender dysphoria.
But the University of Louisville's LGBT Center caught wind of Josephson's participation in the panel and his previous testimony and asked the school to discipline him, the suit says.

The suit adds that another professor in the school's child psychology division — with barely three years of clinical experience — "claimed that Dr. Josephson's belief that a young child (even a four-year-old) does not have the cognitive maturity to declare that he or she is actually a member of the opposite sex was evidence of his discrimination against individuals experiencing gender dysphoria."

In addition, the suit says Josephson was told his gender dysphoria views differed from "the official curriculum of the school" — although no such curriculum existed at the time.

Josephson was soon demoted from his position of chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology because "the majority [of Division faculty] disagrees with your approach to management of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria," the suit said.

"For over a year after the demotion, Defendants continued to retaliate against Dr. Josephson by subjecting him to a hostile, humiliating work environment," the suit said, which included treating him as a junior faculty member, preventing him from attending faculty meetings, and stripping his supervisory duties and travel budget.

In February, the suit says, Josephson was told his contract wouldn't be renewed once it expired in June.

What else did Alliance Defending Freedom say?

"Universities are supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, but the University of Louisville is turning itself into an assembly line of one thought," ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham said. "Dr. Josephson has had a long and distinguished career at the University of Louisville, leading and rebuilding its child psychiatry program. Public universities have no business demoting or firing professors simply because they hold a different view than their colleagues or the administration, but that's exactly what's happened here."

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, added that "universities should welcome differing viewpoints and encourage civil discourse in their academic communities. Speaking with conservative groups — or holding conservative views — should not be disqualifying for academic service. Unfortunately, the University of Louisville's attempts to silence Dr. Josephson shut down debate and do a disservice to students and faculty alike."

What does the University of Louisville have to say?

A university spokesman confirmed Josephson is employed as a professor in the division he initially led and works at its clinic, providing psychiatric treatment to children, Insider Louisville reported. The outlet added that the school "does not comment on pending litigation. Lawsuits only present one side of the situation."
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