Two Homophobic Students; Two Different Outcomes

In recent days, I’ve heard stories about two different students, both expressing anti-gay sentiments in a school setting and both being penalized for that expression.  They each filed suit after their respective penalties were imposed, so they should each get the same result, right? 

I don’t think so.

Jennifer Keeton

First: Jennifer Keeton was a graduate student in counseling at Augusta State University and made no secret of her belief that homosexuality is a choice (and a morally wrong one at that).  According to Keeton, faculty members confronted her about those beliefs — how could she properly counsel GLBT individuals if she believed there was something inherently wrong with them? — and required her to complete a “remediation plan” that included reading articles on homosexuality, attending workshops, and increasing her exposure to the GLBT community. 

The University informed Keeton that if she refused to comply, she would be expelled.  Keeton didn’t want to participate in the plan, so she sued the University, claiming that the University violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of religion with its enforcement of this remediation plan.

The court denied Keeton’s request for a temporary order prohibiting the University from expelling her, noting that she was not likely to win her case when it went to trial.  (Note: Keeton wanted what is called a “preliminary injunction.”  When a party loses their request for such an injunction, they often don’t take their case to trial, since the court denying the injunction has found that they would be unlikely to win at trial.) 

The court of appeals later affirmed that decision, explaining that the University could lose its accreditation if it allowed Ms. Keeton to sidestep the requirements of a counseling degree.  The court compared the rules for counselors to the rules for judges: you have to apply the law even if you don’t agree with it.  If you can’t do that, then don’t become a judge (or counselor, in this case).

I whole-heartedly agree with the court’s decision here.  If Keeton is so hung up on telling gay people there’s something wrong with them, then she can get a degree from a non-accredited university or open some terrible conversion therapy office of her own.  But under no circumstances should Augusta State have to tolerate that behavior from one of their counseling graduate students.

Daniel Glowacki

Second:  Daniel Glowacki is a high school student in Michigan.  On October 20th, 2010, his school district observed an anti-bullying day to raise awareness of the negative impact of bullying, specifically the bullying of members of the LGBT community.  In one of Daniel’s classes, his teacher, Johnson McDowell, asked a student with a Confederate flag belt buckle to remove it, telling her it was offensive.  Daniel then asked why it was permissible to wear a rainbow flag, which some people found offensive, but not a Confederate flag, which other people found offensive.  McDowell asked Daniel if he supported gay rights, and when Daniel responded that his Catholicism prohibited him from doing so, McDowell asked him to leave the room.  Daniel’s mother, with help from the Thomas More Law Center, is now suing the school district and McDowell, claiming that Daniel’s rights to free speech and equal protection were violated.  The suit also requests that a religious exception be added to the school’s definition of “harassment speech,” meaning that expression of moral opposition to homosexuality would not be considered harassment.

This case has not been argued or decided yet, so what follows are just my opinions:

First of all, it sounds like McDowell handled this whole situation pretty poorly.  I’ve never been a teacher, and it’s easy to play Monday-morning quarterback, but doesn’t this seem like the definition of a “teachable moment”?  The story I’ve heard so far doesn’t indicate that Daniel was being belligerent, but rather like he was being a teenager who’s been taught one thing his whole life and is parroting it to whomever asks.  What would have happened if McDowell had engaged the class in a discussion on the different symbolism and connotations of the Confederate flag versus the rainbow flag?  Teenagers are young in some ways, but aren’t they old enough to be thinking critically about these things, and to discuss different viewpoints respectfully?  I certainly think so.  And if they have trouble with respectful discussion, then isn’t an anti-bullying day the perfect opportunity to improve upon those skills?

Legally, there are facts about this case that both help and hurt Daniel’s claim.  The big issue is that all of this took place in a school setting.  If it had been a town council meeting, for example, and Daniel had been asked to leave the meeting because he said that his Catholicism informs his disapproval of homosexuality, the council would be in trouble.  But this is a school.  Teachers and administrators have a lot more leeway to regulate speech because they need to be able to maintain order.

Courts usually balance the speech rights of the individual against the school’s need to maintain discipline: here, it seems like that balance favors Daniel.  As I said, it doesn’t seem to me, based on the facts I’ve seen, that Daniel said anything that would have caused a major disruption. In fact, it seems his comment could have, if handled differently, promoted a worthwhile discussion.

One final note on Daniel’s mother’s request for a religious exemption to the definition of harassment speech: First, this has already been addressed by the legislature, at least as it pertains to a similar proposed state law, and they agreed that one’s faith shouldn’t give anyone a free pass to harass others.  Second, even if a law does impede someone’s ability to practice their religion, that law is often still valid if it is a “neutral law of general applicability.”  The definition of harassment speech seems to fit the bill: religion isn’t specifically targeted in any way, and everyone has to abide by the same rules.

Alright.  That about sums it up.  Do you think that’s a fair assessment of the two cases?

About katherine

Born in Texas, Katherine is now a lawyer in the northwestern United States.

  • Anonymous

    The second one is a ridiculous lawsuit to begin with. He was kicked out of class. Not out of school. The Christian right just wants to make a martyr out of him. That’s all there is to it. Yeah, the teacher should probably have reacted differently, but suing over this is absurd

  • Abram Larson

    In my day, I was kicked out of class for far more mundane activities. While I think the teacher reacted badly, I don’t see any grounds for a law suit. Asking a student to leave the room hardly violates any laws that I’m aware of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Jones/100000175481467 Jessica Jones

    I think it is a very fair assessment with one exception.  The lawsuit for the second one was ridiculous.  She was totally playing the martyr. The teacher should have been reprimanded and that should have been the end of it.

    • EJC

      Why reprimand? From what I read (just from this entry) the kid was expressing dissent without being a bully nor being rude. Free speech means we listen to things that make us uncomfortable. I feel the reprimand would be wrong. HOWEVER, I feel this would be a grand opportunity to open up a healthy debate with all students and parties involved.

      • Littlebrownbird

        Jessica was saying that the “teacher” needed to be reprimanded, not the student. 

        • EJC

          okay. I agree.

  • Tom Horwitz

    The right result was reached in the Keener case.  But in the Glowacki case, I agree that the kid’s freedom of speech was unconstitutionally restricted.  Glowacki was expressing his belief – no matter how misguided it is.  He was not bullying or threatening anyone or any group.  He did not say that it should be open season on GLBT students.  He was not encouraging attacks on GLBT students.  When the teacher asked him about his beliefs regarding gay rights, he chose to tell the truth as to what those beliefs were.  In other words – the teacher elicited his “attack” on GLBT students.  Glowacki did nothing that was not protected by the Constitution.  If there are no other germane facts to this matter, he should prevail.

    • EJC

      without sounding trite here Tom…..amen!

    • Sami Hawkins

      So if a student says they don’t think blacks, jews or women should have equal rights because it’s ‘against their beliefs’ their bigotry shouldn’t be punished in any way?

      I wish you’d been my coach back in highschool, our coach had students running laps around the campus for hours if they ever said anything remotely racist. Shame he didn’t understand that they were just ‘expressing their beliefs’.

      • mike

        I agree why is these even up for discussion.  Wearing symbols of hate, and racism  confederate flags, swastikas etc is never ok and certainly shouldn’t be allowed in schools.

        • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

          It’s up for discussion because some of us value freedom of speech more than the option to punish students for expressing the “wrong opinions.”

          As always, the ACLU would suggest more speech, not less.

        • EJC

          If you like the freedom of expression and free speech, then it is absolutely necessary for your above mentioned issues to be allowed. Free speech means we MUST allow that which is uncomfortable or repugnant. No issue at all. It is a cut and dry free speech issue, and frankly, people like you scare me because you wish to police thought and speech.

          • Sami Hawkins

            What public school did you go to where they didn’t ‘police thought and speech’?

            At my school when we said things that were bigoted and pathetic we got rightly punished for it.  I don’t believe for a second that you’d be defending this bigot if he had proclaimed that jews or blacks shouldn’t have equal rights.

            • EJC

              Don’t believe, but I would defend the right to say those things, but in no way shape or form would I defend the IDEAS that the bigots would speak of. There is a huge difference. 

              Free speech is free speech. Now, in a school setting, if a black student walked up to white student and said “You a cracker” I would punish, not for the words, but the intent. If a white student walked up to a black student and said “you are a nigger” I would punish not for the speech, but intent. 

              If the same students asked to have a debate on race, and one held the notion that blacks are “mud people” I would allow the student to present that as it is repugnant, yes, but a free speech issue.

              As for what public school I went to? I didn’t. I went to a boarding/preparatory academy. We were allowed to say what we wanted, but when we did, we had to be able to defend it with fact and well thought out argumentation, not street insults and such.

              Look, free speech means we MUST endure that which we find the most repugnant. One of the best decisions SCOTUS made recently was allowing the disgusting Westboro Baptist Church the freedom of protest, providing they remain the prescribed distance from the mourners. Do I like the WBC? Fuck no. But do I want them silenced. No, because it is no farther a stretch to restrict US once that gate is opened. Free speech must be allowed.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Uh, the kid basically said that the rainbow flag is a symbol of treason and oppression (by comparing it to the Confederate flag). How is that NOT disruptive?

      He was rightly removed from the classroom and has no grounds for a suit.

  • Kate Johnson47

    In the first case I wholeheartedly agree with the punishment. My first thought was “she’s going to be a counselor?!” I was glad to read on and infer that this punishment was tailored by the university as a learning opportunity for her. If she can’t look beyond that or if she is going to offer counsel to someone with a bias about their life choices, then an accredited university is not for her.

    The second case, there are a few things wrong here.  I live in Michigan and just like *most* anyplace else, we’re a pretty diverse state.  My problem comes from this being an issue in the first place.  I don’t quite understand why the student with the confederate flag was asked to remove that. Yes it could be offensive to some, but I don’t really understand where the teacher get’s off telling a student what he can and can not wear. I personally would have referred him to the principal were I that teacher and thought that the apparel were going to be an issue. Depending on the time of day, this student could have gone to several other classes where the teachers made no mention of it.  Secondly, here in the ‘great state of Michigan’ there was an amendment to the bullying rule to protect people their religious beliefs as a scapegoat for bullying. Perhaps tensions were high this day because it was an anti-bullying day but this child did not target a group.  He did not offer the information, he simply made an observation about the teacher’s seemed bias.  To me it looks like the teacher was trying a little TOO hard for equality and in the end achieved the opposite.  This child simply brought up the contradiction. The teacher asked the student to explain himself, prompting the religious discussion.  Much as I disagree with the kid, his religious beliefs and slanted views are his to have, he simply asked a question.  The teacher should be punished, not the child – for a gross negligence and oversight. Punishing this child for things he said as the result of prodding by the teacher is completely inexplicable.  The teacher made this child a target, not the kid.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

      teachers do it all of the time. I used to hear teachers tell kids in my school to pull their pants up or they had to get out. Who is harmed by saggy pants???

      • NorDog

        Ever see one of those guys trip and fall?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

          Nope LOL It’s a phenomenon

  • mysciencecanbeatupyourgod

    The kid asked a valid question. Telling him “One flag says ‘we want the same rights as everyone else’ and the other says ‘we want to take away the rights of one group” would have been so much better than kicking him out of class for asking a question.

    • Josh

      I think thats an overly simplistic view of the confederate flag’s symbolism. The civil war wasn’t ALL about slavery, after all. I agree with you in principle though.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

        Umm…yeah it was, if you paid attention in History class…

        • Anonymous

          Not really, if you paid attention in History Class.

          It was the disunion itself that caused the Civil War; State’s Rights and the tariff issue became entangled in the slavery issue, and were intensified by it.

          Other major factors were Party Politics, Southern nationalism, Northern nationalism, expansionism, sectionalism, economics and modernization in the Antebellum  Period.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

            It was the threat Lincoln posed to the slave trade. The South threatened to secede during his 1860 campaign because he states that slavery wouldn’t spread to the newly formed territories out west and the lazy Southerners saw this as a threat to their free labor i.e. slaves 

            • EJC

              myopic revisionist history Anthony. Sunburned is correct, factually correct. You are just rewriting and spinning it to suit your needs. Very disingenuous. 

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

                How am I rewriting history??? THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED. Here’s a quote from Jefferson Davis that proves my point

                “My own convictions as to negro slavery are strong. It has its evils and abuses…We recognize the negro as God and God’s Book and God’s Laws, in nature, tell us to recognize him – our inferior, fitted expressly for servitude…You cannot transform the negro into anything one-tenth as useful or as good as what slavery enables them to be.”~Davis 

                • EJC

                  You are making it a single issue war, which it most certainly was NOT. You are making something incredibly complicated into a simpleton’s “Dick and Jane” reader for the Civil War.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

                  ok. Yes the North and South were different economically. But, who were the basis of the South’s economy, again???

                • d w

                  You’ve got to be kidding me, the civil war was about state’s rights, and while slavery was a big part it was the the fact that southern states wanted to run their own business that led to the civil war.

                • RowdyStache

                  And who did they use for labor? Slaves. The racists just wanted to keep their slaves. You say it was about more than that, it was about state’s rights. Yeah, state’s rights to keep slaves.

                • Lord_Byron

                  Yes, state’s rights to let people own others as property. In the 
                  Declaration of Causes of Seceding States slavery is mentioned as the reason for seceding 84 times in the articles of just 4 states alone. 

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Okafor/1759887752 Anthony Okafor

                  On the backs of whom??? CMom you can’t be that silly

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  Uh, yeah, the “right” to own other people, i.e. SLAVERY.

              • Atta

                Sunburned is not correct.  I’m a history professor and the consensus among antebellum and Civil war historians is slavery was the primary issue.  No slavery, no secession.

            • Anonymous

              1819: The Missouri Compromise.1820′s: economic downturn, South Carolina particularly affected.
              1828:  Tariff of Abominations.
              1833:  Force Bill, authorizing the President to use the Federal army and navy in order to enforce acts of Congress

              In short, there where myriad of events that lead to the Civil War and a huge number of them pre-dated Lincoln.

              Slavery was part of a much larger issue:  How much power did the Federal Government (then controlled by the North) wield against the states?  This was answered by the Civil War.

              • Erp

                The southern states were perfectly fine with Federal power if used to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act or similar measure.    They did believe federal power was a problem so the Confederacy was more decentralized than the United States  (except no state could ban slavery) which led to problems when actually fighting the war.    In a sense the North fought for the Union and not initially to abolish slavery (they would have had a lot more support in the UK if they had made that an aim from the beginning) and the South fought for slavery and therefore state’s rights.

          • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

            By any reasonable count, the largest issue was slavery. One can simply look at the declarations of secession made by the various states. Look for example at the South Carolina declaration- 
            http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp The primary and repeated grievances are over slavery. This is true for every state which tried to leave the union. 

          • Atta

            I’m a history professor.  Secession and the Civil War happened due to slavery.  When SC sent out feelers to the other southern states they openly said “Hey, Lincoln’s gonna take our slaves – we better declare independence.

            This was not an abstract “oh god they hate our states rights!” thing.  That as well as your laundry list after it were results of slavery.

            • EJC

              Great, you are a history professor. Where?

              This is a nice piece of information, but without a backing, it means nothing. Also, gosh, a history teacher saying this is true, well, that is like an economist telling us Reaganomics worked. 

              History, unfortunately, is revisionist. The ONLY thing we can do is look at facts. Not interpretations of them. I know lots of history teachers and professors, and trying to get any of them to agree about anything is as easy as splitting an atom or trying to figure the lyrics to that “Blinded By the Light” song. 

              • Erp

                Have you checked the facts.  South Carolina declared when seceding that other states have failed to return escaped slaves:

                 “In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We
                assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for
                years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer
                to their own Statutes for the proof.

                The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides
                as follows:
                “No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws
                thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or
                regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but
                shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or
                labor may be due.”” 

                Which blames other states.  South Carolina then goes on to state:

                “A geographical line has been drawn across the
                Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the
                election of a man to the high office of President of the United
                States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to
                be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because
                he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half
                slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief
                that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

                This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has
                been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons
                who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming
                citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy,
                hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.”

                States rights were used to justify secession but the reason was the fear of losing slavery.

            • Anonymous

              Right….If you say so. I’m still on the fence though, what with there being 5 of the Union States maintaining slavery into the civil war. Not too mention the two Union States where slavery persisted even after the war. Then there is the pesky thing that the last state to outlaw slavery was a Union State.

              Me with all my high school history and all could conclude that secession perhaps cause the Civil War?

              • Erp

                And what caused the secession?

                As I mentioned, the Union fought to maintain the Union; the Confederacy fought to maintain slavery.  So it is not surprising the Union or the four slave states (Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware,  Missouri) remaining in the Union (and the part of Virginia that later became West Virginia and DC) didn’t immediately abolish slavery.    It would eventually happen but was not the immediate goal. 

                Outlawing of slavery in the states of the United States was in three forms.  First, the state outlawing it which happened in many states over many decades prior to and during the Civil War.  Second, the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves in the Confederate States as they came under the control of the Union.  Third, the 13th amendment which abolished it nationwide (December 1865) and wrote that into the constitution (prior to that a state could have overturned their ban or the US Congress revoked the Emancipation Proclamation).   The last states to abolish slavery in the first form were Maryland in 1864 and Missouri in January 1865 [by the governor's proclamation] and West Virginia in February 1865  (it was not abolished in Kentucky and Delaware until the 13th amendment though Delaware had very few slaves by then and most had fled already in Kentucky; it had been abolished in DC in 1862).

                • Anonymous

                  Oh, so we are using the First Cause Argument now:)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe that we have all the facts in the second case. The story as presented doesn’t ring true.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Yup. I get the feeling the kid is downplaying his part in things. Christers do this all the time, claiming they “just asked an innocent question”, when the truth is much, much different.

    • Anonymous

      I’d agree.  It’s not like the teacher ever gets to tell their side of the story in these things.  I’d be willing to bet the situation is very similar to the last time we got a story on FA about a teacher that supposedly just overreacted and sent a student away over apparently stating that he thought it was morally wrong to be homosexual.  That time, it turned out that the student had a long history of harassing that teacher, and the incident we heard about was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back.

  • EJC

    Based only on what is represented in this blog entry, here are my thoughts:

    1) In the case of the Ann Coulter cone; she is wrong, the University is correct. She has a legal right to her opinion, but when that opinion comes into conflict with the accredited curricula, and she wants that curricula modified so she earns her degree…NNNNNNNNT….that is an epic fail.

    It erodes the program and makes the degree meaningless and it will harm anyone who goes for this degree. 

    2) No, I am a HUGE free speecher. The kid, however misguided he may be, did nothing wrong. He pointed out an obvious double standard and from what I read, he did so in a non-confrontational manner. His speech was restricted, and that is never cool.

  • T-Rex

    Isn’t religion a wonderful thing? Love thy neighbor, unless they’re gay, or a different religion, or a different color/race, or……2 ignorant boobs is what I see here. Now they’re known for being bigots as well as being ignorant.  Yeah religion!

  • Anonymous

    The problem I have with the first case is that they weren’t just requiring her to complete the degree. They wanted her to do something EXTRA because of her beliefs. It is the same as Creationists getting biology degrees. As long as they do the course work, you can’t deny them the degree. If she was to complete the degree and then give bad counciling to gay people, then take away her degree. But as long as she does the work, you can’t give her extra work just because of her beliefs.

    In regard to the second case: I grew up in rural Virginia where 20% of the students wore Confederate flags on any given day. While I think that the Civil War was a mistake and the South was wrong to fight to keep its slaves, I know that modern day rednecks see the flag as a symbol of their ancestors, not a symbol of slavery. I believe that students should be allowed to wear the Confederate flag or the gay rights flag and that other students can disagree with either of those as long as they do it peacefully.

    • Anonymous

      It’s no different than requiring extra remedial work when course material isn’t understood.  She clearly did not understand the course requirements and as such she needed further work to catch up to her classmates.

      • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

        She probably understood quite well that other people don’t see anything wrong with homosexuality. And usually when people say ‘homosexuality is a choice’, they mean that it’s a choice to have sex or not…which is true.

        From the summary above, I see no reason to think she misunderstood anything. It’s just that she has a common Christian opinion which is apparently grounds for denying this degree. She may have a case for religious discrimination, depending on the details.

        • Anonymous

          She doesn’t have a case. She violated the ethical standards of her chosen profession. It’s as simple as that. Giving her a degree and letting her have contact with patients would be highly irresponsible.

          This is very different from a geology or a biology degree. She is a medical professional and thus different, additional rules apply

          • Anonymous

            She can believes what she wants and still get the degree and the license, whereupon she would be ethically obligated to refer any LGBTQ patients/cases to another counselor.  This is perfectly fine.  However, she chose the zero tolerance route, was unwilling to compromise on the matter, and for that she rightfully lost her chance to continue in her degree field.

            • Anonymous

              She wanted to become a youth/school counselor, not a private practitioner. In most cases, referring students to someone else is impractical at best and impossible at worst. Most likely, she would be the only counselor to talk to.

        • Mike

          in my experience, when people say homosexuality is a choice, they think it really is. They really are that stupid.

  • fuzzybunnyslipperz

    I wonder what Christians would have to say if the shoe was on the other foot and someone was bullying them that their religious saying shirt/poster/cross jewelry offended someone but the person bullying them said I should be exempt from anti-harassment laws because I’m expressing my religious views.  

  • EJC

    I don’t know if this makes ma bad, but I kinda want to nail that chick….She may be a god fearin’ idiot, but she is kinda hot…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JTBMQYMFVZMKNCXIMISICQ3Z6E Anonymous

    It’s really a shame the way the teacher handled the second one. It absolutely could have been a teaching moment. I imagine the teacher was flustered and didn’t know immediately how to respond (and incorrectly stated the reasoning behind issues with the confederate flag).

  • Anonymous

    I agree with everyone else here… the first case is right-on and I agree with the courts.  If you want to be a judge or a counselor, you have to do the ENTIRE job and not just how you feel like doing it.

    The 2nd case, the kid did nothing wrong.  I displayed his brainwashing nicely, but that was no reason to kick him out.  Another poster here asked if a student should be punished if they say they don’t think blacks, women, etc., deserved equal rights, and I say no, the mere stating of that opinion does not deserve punishment.  As others have said, these are teaching moments in a classroom that should encourage open discussion among the entire class (depending on the class subject, of course).  The teacher has to be very careful, I’d imagine, to ensure a deep discussion of religious beliefs doesn’t get out of hand.  But the mere statement of a belief is not grounds for punishment. 

    Religion AND non-belief are becoming such litigious subjects, it’s kinda scary.

  • Jason Jenkins

    Daniel was answering a question asked by the teacher. The teacher had no business setting up a trap for him, giving him a choice between lying and giving the “wrong answer” that happens to be the true one. (Keeping quiet was another option, but it’s again wrong to put a student in the position of either answering a direct question truthfully or stifling himself.) Harassment isn’t a factor in this scenario–except for harassment of Daniel by the teacher.

    I agree that Daniel’s question was a valid one and merited a thoughtful response by the teacher. (By the way, I’m saying all this as a person who is opposed to the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    If you’re a high school kid who’s already wearing your camouflage hat backwards, you’re going to be a guest star on “Cops” within a couple of years anyway. I can’t look at that kid without imagining him shirtless and drunk.

  • Lord_Byron

    Here is a section from another article on the second lawsuit
    ““I explained the difference between the flags, and he said, ‘I don’t accept gays,’” McDowell said.
    McDowell told the student it was not appropriate to say such things in the classroom.“And he said, ‘Why? I don’t accept gays. It’s against my religion,’” McDowell said.McDowell instructed Glowacki and another student to leave the classroom.The lawsuit also accuses McDowell, who wore a shirt in support of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who committed suicide over anti-gay bullying, of promoting homosexuality.” 

    Sorry, but the kid loses any support I have for him when he and his mother sue a teacher for “promoting homosexuality”

    • Anonymous

      Look at who is representing them. That tells you all you need to know about them. The Thomas More Law Center. An far-right Catholic organization who see themselves as warriors in the “culture war”. They don’t care about the people involved. It’s just part of their crusade.

      It’s also why their brief is extremely anti-gay and riddled with the usual right wing talking points

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    Let’s say the kid in the 2nd example had said he was morally opposed to black people existing, even having the same rights that we do. Would that not be considered the opening for a major disruption? But no, apparently since gays do not have equal rights just yet, it’s not as inflammatory to claim moral opposition to their very existence.

    Let’s not downplay the second example.

  • Lord_Byron

    I fully support free speech, but it does give a little insight to the beliefs of certain people when Daniel’s lawyers come from  the Thomas More Law Center.

    “Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of TMLC, commented: “Rather than teach the required Economics curriculum for which he is paid, McDowell, with the full knowledge of school officials, used his position of authority to promote his homosexual agenda at taxpayer’s expense. This case points out the outrageous way in which homosexual activists have turned our public schools into indoctrination centers, and are seeking to eradicate all religious and moral opposition to their agenda.”
    Thompson added, “It defies common sense for schools to ban all sorts of unhealthy foods while at the same time promoting the homosexual lifestyle, which hard statistics show increases drug abuse, suicides and reduces the life expectancies by several years. Schools that promote such lifestyles are engaging in a form of child abuse.””

    • Anonymous

      Anyone who thinks this case is actually about free speech or even the people involved needs to read what has actually been filed. It’s really about keeping gay people out of schools, preventing anti-bullying measures and preventing the teaching of gay issues. Compare to SB48 in California

  • alphabetsoupofsomething

    According to a student at the school, Glowacki actually said some ‘homophobic’ things before he got kicked out of the class ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRQ07ZpzPGA ). It’s not unusual to cover up the horrible things Christians say and make a person that disagrees with Christianity look bad, so I really have a hard time thinking that the teacher just told him to get out without a discussion. (Graeme Taylor also made a speech supporting the teacher here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJBvdfdAQjs .)

    There is a short article on the matter ( http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/education/student-daniel-glowacki-sues-make-anti-gay-comment ) which includes a brief explanation on the issue.

    Most articles on this paint McDowell as having a ‘pro-homosexual agenda’ that he’s ‘pushing onto his students instead of teaching economics’ and that he was trying to ‘indoctrinate the students into believing the “homosexual lifestyle” is acceptable’, etc. so it’s not a surprise that most of the articles wouldn’t include what actually happened in the classroom.

    As I said above, I have a hard time believing that’s the whole story, and it mostly appears to be Christians trying to make McDowell look bad and make Glowacki a ‘martyr’ (surprise, surprise).

    • Brian Macker

      I don’t like it when comments are characterized instead of being stated.   One could characterize the original question as homophobic.  That doesn’t mean it is.   Also, what exactly does homophobic mean here?  It’s one thing to say “homosexuality is wrong” and another to say “kill all the homosexuals”.   So what exactly did the kid say?    Depending on what the actual answer is we can’t know if he does or doesn’t have a case.    There is not enough info to judge without jumping to lots of conclusions.

      • alphabetsoupofsomething

        I’m not saying Glowacki definitely said anything wrong, just pointing out the other side of the story, which you can’t really find. Most of what you find on it is ‘the lawsuit said this’ and ‘the lawsuit said that’, which is incredibly biased. I just mean people are kind of jumping on the teacher, but there appears to be more than what is being presented. And the Christian media does have a habit of not presenting the entire story as to make themselves look good.

        • alphabetsoupofsomething

          jumping on the teacher*

          • alphabetsoupofsomething

            Wait, ignore this; I read my own comment wrong. (BOO@self)

  • Trina

    If I recall correctly, the Michigan case occurred at just about the same time that that state’s legislature was trying to pass an anti-bullying law which specifically exempted bullying of gays, i.e. allowed it.  There was media exposure, there were petitions, maybe the lawmakers finally realized that the legislation would inevitably fail a court test – at any rate, it was finally passed with no exemptions for certain types of bullying.  

  • Liberalmind

    Wearing the Confederate buckle, whatever you may think of it, is not illegal, nor as far as the story goes, disallowed by the school’s dress code. It’s still part of Mississippi’s flag. Again, from the article, it doesn’t appear that the kid was being disruptive or doing anything against the rules or the law. The teacher was wrong.

    • Newavocation

      The confederate symbol must be ok if it’s promoted by such a progressive state like Mississippi. I didn’t know Mississippi was such a leader in justice and equal rights.

  • Brian Macker

    Hemant,

    Hattip:  Go on YouTube and look for “When did you choose to be straight”.    Think she should be asked that question.


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