School System Pays for Squelching Student's Viewpoint on Homosexuality

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A federal judge in Detroit on Monday ordered the Ann Arbor Public School system to pay $102,738 in attorney fees and costs to the Thomas More Law Center, which defended a student who expressed her religious views against homosexuality.

During her high school's annual "Diversity Week" program, Betsy Hansen says she was not allowed to express her belief against homosexuality.

Hansen also complained about a school-sponsored "Homosexuality and Religion" panel, which, she said, was stacked with religious leaders who endorsed her school's pro-homosexual agenda.

Pioneer High School officials claimed that Hansen's religious objection toward homosexuality was a "negative" message and would "water-down" the "positive" religious message that they wanted to convey-that homosexuality was consistent with Christianity and that homosexual behavior is not immoral or sinful.

Robert Muise, the Thomas More Law Center attorney handling the case, commented, "If the Ann Arbor Public School District wants to continue to promote the homosexual agenda at the expense of the rights of Christian students, then this will be the cost of doing business.

"This case should remind school officials that public schools are not a forum for their personal political agenda."

The Thomas More Law Center filed a federal civil rights case against the school district and several officials in July 2002, claiming that Hansen's constitutional rights had been violated.

Last December, Federal District Judge Gerald E. Rosen ruled that the school had violated Hansen's constitutional right to freedom of speech and right to equal protection, as well as the Establishment Clause. The six-figure fee award is a result of that earlier decision.

The judge's 70-page opinion in favor of Hansen criticized the school for censoring Hansen's speech: "This case presents the ironic, and unfortunate, paradox of a public high school celebrating 'diversity' by refusing to permit the presentation to students of an 'unwelcomed' viewpoint on the topic of homosexuality and religion, while actively promoting the competing view," Rosen said.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said Judge Rosen's ruling "sends a clear message to public schools that insidiously attempt to advance the homosexual agenda using the Trojan Horse of 'diversity.'

"Betsy Hansen's courageous refusal to be silenced is an example to other Christian students who are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs," Thompson added.

The Thomas More Law Center says it defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through education, litigation, and related activities.

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