May 2, 2008
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit has ruled against the First Amendment rights of students in Boyd County, Ky, to express beliefs about the morality of homosexual behavior, prompting an appeal to the full appeals court.
At the instigation of the American Civil Liberties Union, Boyd County High School allowed a “Gay Straight Alliance” club, and the school district instituted a “diversity” program mandated for all students.
As reported by WorldNetDaily, a video about “diversity” prepared by the school addressed those who might have moral objections to homosexual behavior: “But here is the kicker, just because you believe, just because you don’t like them, just because you disagree with them, just because you believe they are wrong, wholeheartedly, absolutely, they are wrong. Just because you believe that does not give you permission to say anything about it. It doesn’t require that you do anything. You just respect, you just exist, you continue, you leave it alone. There is not permission for you to point it out to them.”
The video also prescribed punishment for such speech, as described in the petition filed by lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing student Timothy Morrison, who has filed a lawsuit against the school: “In both the Code of Conduct and the video, the students were told that violating the district policy could result in a suspension, with ‘a possibility of court referral and local law enforcement agency notified …”
“Students were specifically told by the defendant that if they insulted a person by saying that homosexual behavior was wrong, they could face dire consequences.”
One Kentucky paper editorialized in favor of the appeals court decision, claiming that “Morrison was never disciplined for violating the policy or even accused of violating it. Thus, the appeals court said Morrison failed to show he was harmed by the policy.”
However, according to the ADF, the ruling that “chilled speech is not an injury-in-fact” is erroneous: “Other circuits have held, both implicitly and explicitly, that a chill on an individual’s ability to exercise his or her right to free speech is a constitutional injury-in-fact. In our case, the ‘government regulation’ was a direct prohibition against the exercise of First Amendment rights. Students should not be forced to subject themselves to criminal prosecution before they can seek judicial relief from unconstitutional speech policies.”
Let’s hope and pray that, in its ruling, the full appeals court will uphold the right of free expression of all citizens—including those who object to homosexual behavior on moral grounds.