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December 28, 2012

Court upholds firing of U. Toledo exec for anti-gay op-ed

Part of her job was to administer the school’s LGBT equality rules

Toledo--A three-judge federal appellate court panel has upheld the firing of a University of Toledo administrator who wrote an opinion piece in the Toledo Free Press questioning the view of gay rights as civil rights.

Crystal Dixon was the university’s assistant vice president of human resources in 2008 when she wrote a response to editor-in-chief Michael Miller’s April 4 column on LGBT rights.

“As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner,” Dixon wrote, “I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims.’ 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 evidenced by the growing population of P-FOX . . . and Exodus International.”

Exodus International has since moved away from the widely discredited idea that sexual orientation can be changed.

College administration first put Dixon on paid leave pending a hearing, then fired her.

“Your position . . . 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,” Dr. Lloyd A. Jacobs’ letter of termination reads. “The result is a loss of confidence in you as an administrator.”

While Dixon did not identify herself as a university administrator in the letter, the school argued that her position was directly contrary to the university’s, and undermined the policies she was charged with developing and enforcing.

Dixon lost her suit against the University of Toledo in 2011 when she moved for summary judgment. The university also filed for summary judgment, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ruled in favor of the school.

Dixon appealed, and the case went to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth District, which agreed with the university:

“Where a confidential or policymaking public employee is discharged on the basis of speech related to his political or policy views, the Pickering balance favors the government as a matter of law,” the appellate court’s decision reads, referring to a balance test to see whether the public employee’s “free speech interests outweigh the efficiency interests of the government as employer.”

“Although Dixon correctly contends that she never explicitly stated that the University diversity policies should not extend to LGBT students and employees, by voicing her belief that members of the LGBT community do not possess an immutable characteristic in the way that she as an African-American woman does, the implication is clear: Dixon does not think LGBT students and employees of the University are entitled to civil-rights protections,” the ruling reads, “even though the University, in part through the Human Resources Department, expressly provides them.

“In writing her op-ed column, Dixon not only spoke on policy issues, but also spoke on policy issues related directly to her position at the University.”

Dixon’s attorneys have indicated that they will ask for the appeal to be heard by the court en banc.

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