Student Sues School District Over Punishment For Expressing His Religious Views Against Homosexuality

Philip Shepherd | December 20, 2011 | 8:58pm EST
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Gay pride rainbow flag. (AP Photo)

( – A student at a public high school in Michigan who was punished because he said that his religion opposed homosexuality is now suing the school district and his teacher for violating his civil rights, according to the Thomas More Law Center, which filed the lawsuit in federal court last week.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and cites the plaintiffs as the student, his brother, and their mother, Sandra Glowacki, and the defendants: the Howell Public School District, and the teacher, Johnson (“Jay”) McDowell.

According to the suit, McDowell asked the student, Daniel Glowacki, a junior at Howell High School at the time of the incident, whether he supported homosexuality.  Glowacki responded that his Catholic faith and morals did not accept homosexual behavior and he could not condone the gay lifestyle.  Following that answer, McDowell ordered Glowacki to leave the classroom under threat of suspension.

The incident took place on Oct. 20, 2010, the day that McDowell, Glowacki’s economics teacher, wore a purple “Tyler’s Army” t-shirt as part of a national campaign called “Spirit Day,” which is promoted by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to raise awareness of alleged bullying of homosexuals.

Instead of teaching his economics course, McDowell reportedly used his allotted class time to promote the pro-homosexual agenda, which was accompanied by McDowell sharing his thoughts and showing a video concerning such bullying to his classes.

Johnson "Jay" McDowell. (AP Photo)

“During all of his class periods on October 20, 2010, Defendant McDowell did not teach his students about economics or any other subject that was part of the educational curriculum,” reads the lawsuit.

“Instead, he promoted the pro-gay agenda of the NEA, the MEA [Michigan Education Association], and the HEA, which was supported by the School District. In each of his classes, Defendant McDowell explaiend to his students that October 20th was nationally recognized as “anti-bullying” day, and he showed his students a movie about teenagers who committed suicide because they were homosexual.”

“The purpose of the ‘anti-bullying’ day, the ‘Tyler’s Army’ t-shirts, and the movie was to indoctrinate students into believing that homosexuality is normal and to shift the blame for the destructive lifestyle of homosexuals to those who believe it is wrong and immoral,” reads the lawsuit.

When Daniel Glowacki was in class, he reportedly witnessed McDowell order a fellow student to remove her confederate flag belt buckle because the teacher found it offensive.  Glowacki then “raised his hand and asked Defendant McDowell why it was permissible to display a rainbow flag, which is offensive to some people, but not a Confederate flag, which Defendant McDowell found offensive,” states the lawsuit.

(AP Photo)

At that point, McDowell asked Glowacki “whether he ‘supported’ or ‘accepted gays,’ or words to that effect,” says the lawsuit. When Glowacki “responded by stating that his religion does not accept homosexuality and that he could not condone that behavior,” McDowell got angry, according to the lawsuit, and said “that his religion was ‘wrong,’ or words to that effect, and ordered [Glowacki] to leave his classroom under threat of suspension.”

Following Glowacki’s removal from the classroom, McDowell then asked if any other students were opposed to homosexuality.  A student raised his hand and "McDowell ordered him out of the classroom as well," says the lawsuit.

After the second student was removed, McDowell “continued discussing religious views and homosexuality with the remainder of the class, using his position of authority within the School District to promote the pro-gay agenda supported by the NEA, the MEA, the HEA and the School District,” states the lawsuit. “By ordering the two students out of his classroom, Defendant McDowell was executing the School District’s policy regarding ‘harassment speech’ and its policy on snap suspensions.”

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said in a statement: “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.”

(AP Photo)

The Michigan Education Association, the state teacher’s union, reportedly supported the actions of McDowell, who is head of the school’s teachers union.  As word of the incident spread, homosexual activists celebrated McDowell’s actions and reportedly labeled Daniel Glowacki and his family as bigots.

As the negative campaign against Daniel Glowacki grew, his mother Sandra Glowacki contacted the Thomas More Law Center and filed the lawsuit.

“This is the type of campaign we see all the time when someone stands up to the homosexual agenda,” said Robert Muise, senior trial counsel for the Thomas More Law Center and lead counsel on the case.

The complaint alleges that the “National Education Association (NEA), the Michigan Education Association (MEA), and the Howell Education Association (HEA) have adopted a policy position that seeks to eradicate religious opposition to homosexuality from the public schools. The NEA, the MEA, and the HEA consider religious opposition to homosexuality to be the equivalent of bullying, hate speech, and homophobia.”

(AP Image)

Those school policies have “created a school environment that favorably promotes the agenda of gay rights activists while creating an environment that is hostile toward and disfavors students and families that oppose homosexuality on moral and religious grounds,” reads the lawsuit. The school district’s policies encourage school officals and teachers “to silence and disparage opinions, ideas, and viewpoints that disfavor homosexuality, such as the religious viewpoint held by Plaintiffs,” reads the lawsuit.

The lawsuit charges that Daniel Glowacki’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech and equal protection were violated by the policies and actions of the school district and McDowell.  The school and the teacher deprived Glowacki of his “right to freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment as applied to the states and their political subdivisions under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. 1983,” states the lawsuit.

“By favoring speech that promotes and approves of homosexuality and punishing Plaintiffs’ less favored religious view toward homosexuality, Defendants [school and teacher] have violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” reads the suit.

The suit seeks nominal damages, a declaration that the school district’s policies violate constitutional rights to freedom of speech and the equal protection of the law, and an injunction prohibiting further constitutional violations.

“Homosexual activists, with the willing and complicit support of public school districts and teachers’ unions throughout the country, are using our public schools to foist their destructive agenda on our children, thereby creating a hostile learning environment for those students who oppose this agenda on religious and moral grounds,” said Muise.  “This case is just one example of the pernicious effect these activists are having on our students and in our community.  We intend to stop it.”

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) is a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is representing the Glowacki family free of charge.

Numerous telephone inquiries by to McDowell at the Howell High School were not answered before this story was posted.

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