A community college professor in Tennessee who required her students to wear rainbow-colored ribbons in a show of support for the gay rights movement during a class assignment, also said the views of students who were against the display because of their faith was "ignorant and uneducated," according to a religious liberty legal group.
Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers say that the students were in Linda Brunton's general psychology class at Columbia State Community College when they were directed to wear "Rainbow Coalition" ribbons for an entire day and express their support for the homosexual community.
When several students objected to being forced to support conduct that violates their faith convictions, Brunton brushed aside their concerns, described their views as "ignorant and uneducated," and explained that she hoped this assignment would cause them to change their beliefs, ADF stated. Regardless of their convictions, students had to express the views in a paper about the assignment she mandated in order to receive class credit.
ADF has sent a letter to the college on behalf of the students asking administrators to order Brunton to apologize to the students, according to Fox News Radio.
"Colleges should be the marketplace of ideas, not environments where professors manipulate students into advancing particular political agendas," said Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. "The Constitution does not allow any government official to force another person to adopt or advocate a particular moral or political view. But this professor did just that with this assignment and thus clearly violated freedoms protected by the First Amendment."
Barnham told Fox News that Brunton "essentially turned her General Psychology class into a semester-long clinic on the demands of the homosexual movement."
A spokesperson for the college told Fox News she was not aware of the concerns but said she would look into the matter. Brunton has not made any public comments at press time.
The ADF letter explains that "for at least seven decades, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the government may not compel a citizen to say what he does not want to say." The letter points out that the Supreme Court has specifically ruled that "the First Amendment protects the right of individuals…to refuse to foster…an idea they find morally objectionable."
"College officials must respect their students' constitutional freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion," added Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. "Compelling students to utter government-approved ideas is not education, but an abuse of power. We hope Columbia State acknowledges this and ensures that its professors stop forcing any students to endorse views with which they disagree in order to receive a passing grade."