Professor Sheldon was terminated in 2008 for statements the College deemed to be politically incorrect. While Sheldon was teaching a Human Heredity course, a student asked how heredity affects homosexuality in males and females. Professor Sheldon responded 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, ignoring its policies guaranteeing academic freedom.
Following a two-year legal battle, the College agreed to give Sheldon $100,000 and remove any disciplinary action concerning the incident from her personnel file.
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 alternative viewpoints. We are pleased that in this case our partnership with our friends at ADF in defense of academic freedom produced a winning result.”