Transgender faculty member files Title VII lawsuit against Kent State

Jacob Brooks, TV2 Reporter

Kaitlyn Finchler, Digital Manager

Correction: Headline of the story has been changed to reflect the lawsuit is about an alleged Title VII violation. 

Associate English professor GPat Patterson filed a lawsuit against Kent State on the grounds of a denied promotion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Patterson is an openly transgender person who teaches at the Tuscarawas campus, who filed the lawsuit Nov. 15 and said they were verbally promised a promotion that would lighten their teaching load, as well as a transfer to the main campus.

According to the lawsuit, “On November 20, 2020, Dr. Patterson was informed by Defendant’s then Director of its Center for Sexuality and Gender Studies (‘CSGS’), Dr. Molly Merryman, that she had recommended Dr. Patterson to Dean Mandy Munro-Stasiuk as her replacement for that position.”

On Jan. 24, 2021, Merryman informed Patterson that Munro-Stasiuk would ask them to serve on the Steering Committee for the CSGS Program.

“In an April 29, 2021 email exchange, Dean Munro-Stasiuk proposed reducing Dr. Patterson’s teaching load by fifty percent to accommodate their work with the current Women’s Studies and LGBT studies faculty, and to focus their work on building the CSGS academic degree proposal, and the CSGS Program itself,” the lawsuit said.

When asked to comment on the lawsuit, Eric Mansfield, assistant vice president of content strategy and communication said, “Kent State typically does not comment on pending litigation.”

On June 2, 2021, Julie Mazzei, director of the School of Multidisciplinary Social Sciences and Humanities, informed Patterson that Kent State had “rescinded the promotion promised by Dr. Munro-Stasiuk.”

An unspecified person expressed “worry,” according to Munro-Stasiuk in the complaint, that Patterson would “erase women in the WGS curriculum,” and this was the reason for the rescission.

Patterson spoke to Munro-Stasiuk on June 11, 2021 in regard to a Title IX violation for discrimination against transgender persons in the CSGS curriculum and received no response.

On June 16, 2021, Mazzei, “who is neither transgender nor a gender and sexualities studies scholar with any relevant background in that discipline, informed Dr. Patterson that she would chair and appoint CSGS leadership roles, which Dean Munro-Stasiuk offered to Dr. Patterson during the May 16, 2021, conference. Dr. Mazzei further declared that Dr. Patterson would no longer be the CSGS Director contrary to Dean Munro-Stasiuk’s offer,” according to the complaint filed.

This story involves pending litigation and will be updated with additional information.

Kaitlyn Finchler is the digital manager. Contact her at [email protected].