US: Toledo official fired over column sues

The firing of a college administrator over her criticism of gay rights has sparked a debate about free speech and whether universities have the right to regulate what employees say outside of their jobs, reports Associated Press. Crystal Dixon filed a lawsuit in federal court last week seeking to be reinstated to her University of Toledo job, which she lost after writing in a newspaper column that gay rights cannot be compared to civil rights because homosexuality is a choice.

"I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims'," Dixon wrote in an online edition of the Toledo Free Press on 18 April. "Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman." Hundreds of people wrote letters, calling her views disturbing, and two weeks later Dixon was fired as associate vice president for human resources.

School officials said her views contradicted university policies, according to the lawsuit. "We have asserted from the beginning that Ms. Dixon was in a position of special sensitivity as associate vice president for human resources and this issue is not about freedom of speech, but about her ability to perform that job given her statements," university spokesman Larry Burns said in a statement.
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