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December 16, 2011 Print

Michigan Student Sues After Being Punished for Views on Sexuality

by Karla Dial

On Thursday, the Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit against Michigan’s Howell Public School District and one of its high school teachers on behalf of a Catholic student who was punished for saying homosexuality doesn’t align with his religious beliefs.

Jay McDowell, an economics teacher at Howell High, told a girl in his class wearing a Confederate belt buckle she had to take it off because its message was offensive to him. Daniel Glowacki, a junior, said that was unfair because McDowell was wearing a shirt and teaching a lesson related to homosexuality that day, which some of the students found objectionable.

According to the legal group, McDowell asked Glowacki his views on homosexuality — and when Glowacki said expressed his religious viewpoint, McDowell ordered him out of the classroom and threatened to suspend him. He then asked the rest of the class if there was anyone else who was offended by homosexuality, and kicked out another student who raised his hand.

“This is a situation where a student, because he exercised his free speech rights — in fact responding honestly to the question that was asked by the teacher — is then punished by the teacher because of the content of his speech,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center. “Not only is there a violation of free speech — because Daniel doesn’t lose his constitutional rights just because he walks into a public school — there is also another constitutional violation, and that is the equal protection of the laws.”

Read “Parents Beware of Deceptive ‘Anti-Bullying’ Initiatives,” by Candi Cushman from the June/July 2010 issue of Citizen magazine.