The governing body of a university in Mexico has dismissed proceedings started by the school against a recent psychology graduate to withdraw his license to practice due to his graduation speech defending the family and the sanctity of life, calling the demand for action “unfounded.”
The Autonomous University of Baja California had started formal proceedings to ban him from practicing psychology after a group of professors filed complaints against the student, Christian Cortez Pérez, but the University Council found the claims to be “unfounded,” said the human rights group ADF International, which supported the Christian graduate.
“I am overjoyed that the university has recognized that I committed no wrong in exercising my free speech rights to speak about issues of profound moral concern from the graduation podium,” Pérez said.
As valedictorian at the university’s School of Medicine and Psychology, Pérez delivered the commencement address at his graduation ceremony on June 27, where he voiced his deeply held moral convictions regarding the state of the world today, and the importance of the family and the sanctity of life, among other issues.
Some students and faculty protested vocally and walked out, but he continued and delivered his graduation address in full.
The professors then issued a “manifesto,” calling his address “hate speech.” They demanded that his academic degree and professional license be withheld, his merit award withdrawn and psychology associations across Mexico be alerted about his actions.
“What happened to me shows how dangerous it is when professors with agendas try to punish students with whom they disagree,” Pérez said. “Academic institutions must respect the free speech rights of all students, and this is a great win for fundamental freedoms.”
In response to the proceedings against him, Pérez filed a counterclaim to protect his rightful interests.
Carlos Ramirez, lead lawyer for Pérez’s case in Mexico, said the ruling shows that the “vindictive attack” on Christian by his professors was groundless.
“While it is very unfortunate that Christian had to go through this completely inappropriate ordeal, let this be a clear signal to all that students have the right to voice their views in a public university,” Ramirez added. “Free speech is fundamental for flourishing intellectual life both in and beyond school.”
On account of widespread violations, international bodies repeatedly have called on Mexico to correct its stance on freedom of speech, ADF International noted in its statement.
In his commencement speech, Pérez said, “Today we are deep into a real anthropological struggle to redefine the human being, the human person, man, through the implementation of ideologies and fashions of thought that always end up undermining dignity and freedom.”
He then quoted English writer and lay theologian G.K. Chesterton: “People do not know what they are doing; because they do not know what they are undoing.” Pérez added that “to attack life and the family is to self-destruct, it is an attack on civilization itself.” He then urged his peers to live in solidarity with one another, saying, “You have to love; no one seeks the good of the other if he does not love him.”
The group’s legal counsel Kristina Hjelkrem called the demand for action against the graduate “a silencing and sanctioning campaign,” which caused Pérez severe reputational harm, in addition to the real threat of losing the ability to practice his profession.
“Not only is this representative of cancel culture at its worst, but also efforts to punish him contravened the fundamental human right to free speech enshrined in international law. All concerned with the protection of free speech should take note,” she said.