University unlawfully stops Christian students from debating gay marriage: lawsuit
Three Christian college students have sued the University of Idaho for alleged wrongful punishment for expressing traditional views on marriage and sexual ethics on campus.
Students Peter Perlot, Mark Miller and Ryan Alexander of the Christian Legal Society sued the university in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, Central Division on Monday.
The defendants named in the suit include University President C. Scott Green, Dean of Students Brian Eckles, Office of Civil Rights & Investigations Director Erin Agidius and OCRI Deputy Director Lindsay Ewan.
According to the lawsuit, the three students went to an LGBT event on campus seeking to represent a biblical perspective on marriage and sexuality.
When a student approached to ask their views, they offered their perspectives and gave the student a note expressing an interest in continuing the dialogue.
Soon after, however, the Christian students were given “no-contact orders” from the OCRI, which prohibited them from communicating with the student.
“The CLS members did not receive notice that anyone had complained about them and were not given an opportunity to review the allegations against them or defend themselves,” according to the suit.
“Instead of allowing the students to disagree civilly and respectfully with one another and to discuss these important issues, the University chose instead to censor Plaintiffs.”
The students are being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that has argued religious liberty cases at the U.S. Supreme Court on numerous occasions.
ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross said in a statement released Tuesday that he believed students “must be free to discuss and debate the important issues of our day, especially law students who are preparing for a career that requires civil dialogue among differing viewpoints.”
“Yet the University of Idaho is shutting down Peter, Mark, and Ryan because of their religious beliefs. This is illegal behavior from any government official, and we urge the university officials to right their discriminatory actions immediately,” Ross stated.
Jodi Walker, the university's senior communication's director, told The Christian Post that the academic institution “cannot discuss pending litigation or specific student cases.”
Walker explained that the no-contact order was “a supportive measure available to a student under Title IX” and that “these supportive measures must be enacted” when a student requests them.
“When a complaint is made that qualifies under Title IX, the university must make the student aware of the supportive measures available,” noted Walker.
Walker directed CP to a July 2021 guidance document from the U.S. Department of Education titled “Questions and Answers on the Title IX Regulations on Sexual Harassment.”
Under the question on “supportive measures,” the guidance explained that schools have “discretion and flexibility to determine which supportive measures are appropriate.”
“The preamble states that a school must consider ‘each set of unique circumstances’ to determine what individualized services would be appropriate based on the ‘facts and circumstances of that situation,’” stated the guidance.