The lawsuit had its genesis in a class discussion last summer. While Sheldon was teaching a Human Heredity course, a student asked how heredity affects homosexuality in males and females. Professor Sheldon noted that this was a complex issue but referred to both the textbook and a noted German scientist who found a correlation between maternal stress during pregnancy and later homosexual behavior in males. Professor Sheldon referenced the findings as one of many theories on the subject, noting that genes and environmental factors would also be discussed later in the textbook. Another student, upset by Sheldon's approach to the subject, filed a complaint with the College calling her comments "offensive and unscientific." The College launched an investigation and terminated Sheldon in spite of its policies guaranteeing academic freedom.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "The actions of San Jose City College in firing Professor Sheldon were both outrageous and illegal. This case is an alarming, all-too-real illustration of the insidious efforts underway on many college campuses to stifle dissent."