Several students are demanding a Tennessee community college psychology professor be disciplined for persistently pushing her pro-gay views on her students and even forcing students to identify themselves as in favor of the LGBT agenda in a mandatory project.
The Alliance Defense Fund is representing the students who objected to the classroom tactics of Columbia State Community College Professor Dr. Linda Brunton. The students say any views opposed to Brunton’s were not welcome and any opposition to the gay agenda was considered to be the thinking of “uneducated bigots” who “attack homosexuals with hate”. But one assignment in particular triggered the protests.
“She assigned the class to wear rainbow coalition ribbons in support of homosexual behavior for at least a day on campus and wherever they went off campus. Students then had to write a reaction paper from wearing those ribbons and how they were allegedly discriminated against while wearing the ribbons,” said Alliance Defense Fund attorney David Hacker. “Several students contacted us, just objecting to this. It’s a very clear case of a government official, a state college professor, compelling students to speak in a way they disagree with.”
Hacker says it’s fine for teachers to have students consider ideas from different perspectives, but Dr. Brunton clearly crossed the line.
“Colleges and professors can require students to play devil’s advocate in a paper or argue a position in class that they don’t necessarily agree with, as long as it’s an academic exercise,” said Hacker. “Once the professor here, Ms. Brunton, required the students to advocate a message outside the classroom, that’s compelled speech and it’s clearly unconstitutional.”
Before seeking a legal remedy, the students brought their concerns to Dr. Brunton. Hacker says those efforts went nowhere.
“She, unfortunately, just brushed aside their concerns and basically described their views as ignorant and uneducated and she said that she hoped the assignment would cause them to change their beliefs,” said Hacker.
“Colleges are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, not an environment where professors are manipulating students into advancing particular political agendas,” said Hacker.
Alliance Defending Freedom is asking Columbia State Community College to investigate the matter and Hacker says the school has agreed to do so. He says this sort of compelled speech must be addressed but he says college campuses nationwide are actively promoting the pro-gay movement.
“We’re finding it’s very common. A few years ago, we represented a student at Missouri State University. She was in a social work class and the class was assigned a project to write a joint letter to the Missouri State Legislature advocating in favor of same-sex adoption and fostering. The student objected, said she didn’t want to do that because it went well beyond just an academic exercise. It was advocating a position to a legislature,” said Hacker.
“The professor turned around and filed ethics charges against her, in fact the worst ethics charges a student can receive at the school and then required her to sign an agreement saying she won’t allow her her personal religious beliefs to get in the way of doing these sorts of assignments. I mean just a clear violation of her religious liberty, her rights of conscience and her freedom from being compelled to speak in a way that she disagreed with.”