A Michigan high school student filed a federal lawsuit against his school district for violating his religious freedom and free speech rights.
David Stout Jr., represented by Great Lakes Justice Center, claims he was wrongly suspended for three days last October by Plainwell High School for sharing his Christian beliefs in a private text conversation and in a hallway at school.
David could not attend class or participate in after-school activities like band and football during the punishment.
His crime? Stating his biblical views that homosexuality is a sin and God created only two biological genders in texts with another student that did not occur on school grounds.
“Plaintiff stated that while homosexual conduct is a sin, however, everyone is a sinner due to freewill choices, and he would pray for them ‘to repent and follow Jesus,’” the lawsuit reads. “He also shared that he would extend love toward them because ‘God commands’ it, as ‘Jesus died on the cross for them and extends His love toward them, and all they have to do is accept it.’”
During summer band camp, David also reportedly committed the crime of laughing at “inappropriate racial and homophobic jokes.
Austin Hunt, the school’s band director, allegedly told the student to stop posting his political and religious views on any social media platforms.
“Defendants Hunt also instructed Plaintiff that if he saw other students’ political or religious comments on social media that he disagreed with, then he should scroll past their posts and never respond,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Hunt told Plaintiff that if he had shared his political and religious beliefs and laughed at offensive jokes in the workplace, he would have been fired.”
David’s father said he believes the court will uphold his son’s constitutional rights and that the school will clear his record.
“We have always taught our son to be respectful of everyone’s opinion and to be polite to others, as he was here. However, tolerance is a two-way street. David is entitled to properly express his faith and beliefs without being disciplined and suspended by Plainwell schools,” he said.
“My client’s religious speech and beliefs should be treated with tolerance and respect,” David Kallman, senior legal counsel with the Great Lakes Justice Center, said in a statement. “Public schools may not violate the constitution and enforce a heckler’s veto of student speech. Nothing David did caused any disruption or problem at the school.”