The Great Lakes Justice Center is pursuing a lawsuit against a Michigan school district on behalf of a high school junior, alleging the teen was suspended for "expressing his sincerely held Christian beliefs and opinions" regarding homosexuality to another student.
The student, David Stout, claims in the suit filed on Thursday that he was suspended for three days by the Plainwell Community Schools in October for alleged violations of the district's policy on cyberbullying.
The decision to suspend Stout came after administrators were made aware he told another student through text message six months earlier that he believed "homosexual conduct" was a sin and that male and female are the only two genders.
According to the lawsuit, Stout was also suspended for laughing at "inappropriate racial and homophobic 'jokes' " made on school grounds during band practice over the summer.
In a press release on Friday, the conservative Christian organization representing Stout said that school officials acted outside their authority and violated his First Amendment rights.
"My client's religious speech and beliefs should be treated with tolerance and respect. Public schools may not violate the constitution and enforce a heckler's veto of student speech," said David A. Kallman, Great Lakes Justice Center senior legal counsel.
"Nothing David did caused any disruption or problem at the school. He has the right to express his opinion in accordance with his sincerely held religious beliefs, without vilification or punishment from the government for holding to those beliefs," he added.
Stout's father, David J. Stout, said he filed the lawsuit to have his disciplinary record cleared.
"We trust the court will uphold David's constitutional rights and his school record will be cleared," the teen's father said in a statement accompanying the Friday press release.
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