The Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) is allowing a conservative student to return to class after being temporarily banned from a religious studies course for expressing his belief that there are only two genders.
At a press conference on Monday, IUP President Michael Driscoll announced that religious studies major Lake Ingle will now be allowed to attend class after he was barred from attending a course earlier this month for challenging the professor's claims on gender issues.
"Based on a review of governing policies, last week the student was informed that he is allowed to attend class," Driscoll said in a statement, as reported by The Christian Post.
"I hope he will be in attendance this week and beyond. To help ensure that a positive learning environment is maintained, I have asked a senior faculty member with significant experience in the First Amendment and a long career as a successful classroom teacher to join the class as a monitor and a mentor for all," he continued.
Ingle was banned from the course "RLST 481 – Special Topic – Self, Sin, and Salvation," taught by Professor Alison Downie, after he tried to refute claims made in a TED Talk video featuring transgender ex-pastor Paula Stone Williams that was shown in class on Feb. 28.
After the video, the professor started the discussion on topics like "mansplaining," male privilege and sexism, but only female students were initially allowed to speak. Ingle said that he spoke after initial silence, and started criticizing claims on issues like the gender pay gap, while also noting that many biologists believe there are only two genders.
Ingle was banned from the class the next day and was asked to sign an "Academic Integrity Referral Form and Documented Agreement" that alleged that he had a "disrespectful objection to the professor's class discussion structure" and that he spoke out of turn during the discussion.
The student was reportedly told that he can only return to the course if he delivers an apology in front of the entire class and sit in silence as his peers and his professor judge him.
Driscoll expressed disappointment about how the university handled the situation, saying it had "fallen short" in its application of the First Amendment.
The Academic Integrity Board was supposed to issue a ruling on Monday on whether Ingle should be banned from Downie's upper level religious studies course, but Driscoll announced that he had paused the formal process indefinitely without any consideration from the board's ruling.
He noted that he has the option to restart the process if Ingle's return to class does not yield positive results.
The ban would have delayed Ingle's graduation if he had not been reinstated by the university. The student said that he considers the end to his 18-day exile a victory.
"I'm happy I can get back to class and graduate on time. I was surprised the president stepped in before the ruling but glad he made the right choice," Ingle told Fox News.