Biology, Bipolarity, and Accuracy in Education

(Keith Kohl/ Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP)
Biology and the Woke

Among biologists, sexual dimorphism and bipolarity (not the same thing) among vertebrates isn’t really a subject for debate. (Full disclosure: My undergraduate degree was in biology, I haven’t worked in the field for some time but try to stay current.) But recently, a biology professor, Johnson Varkey, was fired for stating the obvious.


Johnson Varkey has for 20 years taught anatomy and physiology at St. Philip’s College, part of the Alamo Community College District of Texas.

Nineteen years and 1,500 students into his teaching, he says a few of them became visibly offended by his textbook lessons on the biology of male and female.

St. Philips fired Varkey for violating its “faculty code of professional ethics” based on “several reports” that he committed “religious preaching, discriminatory comments about homosexuals and transgender individuals, anti-abortion rhetoric, and misogynistic banter,” according to a Jan. 27 memo on his “termination of employment and contract” attached to his legal threat letter.

Now if Dr. Varkey did in fact engage in religious preaching, that would be grounds for disgruntlement (but not dismissal) as that’s not what the families of the students are paying for him to do — they are paying him to teach biology. But there’s no evidence presented that he did any religious preaching. I’m much more inclined to think that charge, along with his “discriminatory comments” and so forth, are simply based on him teaching, you know, biology.

“It is preposterous” the college would fire Varkey “for teaching basic, widely accepted biology” for two decades despite his “exemplary performance reviews,” his counsel Keisha Russell said.

Varkey’s Alamo 2021-2022 evaluation, attached as an exhibit, shows he “exceeds expectations” in each category.

“But now that cultural elites are at odds with these ideas, the school no longer supports professors who teach them,” Russell said.

Science instruction is increasingly a minefield due to its conflicts with gender ideology, which often does not acknowledge the biology of sex or deems it irrelevant.

“Biology faces a grave threat from ‘progressive’ politics that are changing the way our work is done,” from grant applications to teaching, evolutionary biologists Jerry Coyne, of the University of Chicago, and Luana Maroja, of Williams College, each vocal critics of so-called wokeness infecting science, wrote in the current issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Biology and the Facts

Biology is a complicated subject. The bipolarity of sex in vertebrates isn’t universal; There are salamanders that can change sex, and there are members of the Squamata (snakes and lizards) that are capable of parthenogenesis, in which a female gives birth without mating. But humans aren’t amphibians or reptiles.

We are mammals, and the two phenomena described above aren’t observed in mammals. There are genetic disorders found in humans that can lead to sexual ambiguities, including Klinefelter (XXY) Syndrome, Jacobs (XYY) Syndrome, and a few others; these are called Aneuploidy, a condition where there are an unusual number of chromosomes in a cell, and the syndromes mentioned are very rare. There is also the psychological (not physical) condition of gender dysphoria, where the subject perceives themselves to be the sex other than their genome presents; this was, until recently, generally treated with therapy.

But mammal sex is bipolar. That’s just the truth. It has always been the truth, and it will always be the truth. It is determined by chromosomes, as are many other immutable characteristics, such as skin, hair, and eye color. That’s the truth. That’s biology. As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” College science professors are in their positions to teach facts, not dogma, and Dr. Varkey, by all appearances, was fired for declining to teach dogma.


It’s not bigotry to tell the truth. In fact, telling the truth is essential if educational institutions are to actually, you know, educate. And these current trends of squashing dissent from those who demur from toeing the woke party line are chilling. Academic freedom, it seems, is alive and well — as long as you don’t violate The Narrative.


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