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October 2, 2013 Print

Gallaudet School Official Sues University for Free Speech Discrimination

by Bethany Monk

A Gallaudet University official suspended last year after she exercised free speech at church filed a lawsuit against the school Friday.

Angela McCaskill was placed on administrative leave after she affirmed marriage after signing a petition for a referendum on Maryland’s law that redefined it. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, says the school violated anti-discrimination provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act.

“She was basically disciplined on the job and demoted based on something she did at church,” her attorney J. Wyndal Gordon told CitizenLink. “And the university failed to take any action whatsoever.”

According to the lawsuit, McCaskill was demoted three months later when the school reinstated her. The complaint alleges she went from Deputy to the President and Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, to just Chief Diversity Officer. It also says she was ordered to no longer report to the Provost.

McCaskill was one of 160,000 people who signed the petition, spearheaded by the Maryland Marriage Alliance. The state’s same-sex marriage law was then placed on the November 2012 ballot. Marylanders voted 52 to 48 percent against repeal.

Located in D.C., Gallaudet University specializes in educating deaf and hard-of-hearing students. McCaskill was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from the university. She has worked at the school for 23 years in various capacities.

“The university certainly made the right decision to reinstate her,” David J. Hacker, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom , told CitizenLink. “But it’s troubling that a university of this prestige placed her on an administrative leave for participating in constitutionally protected speech.”

Read the statement Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz placed on Facebook about placing McCaskill on leave.

Read the letter ADF sent to Gallaudet University.

Read “Gallaudet University Reinstates Administrator Who Signed Petition to Put Marriage on Maryland Ballot,” by David J. Hacker.