University pays $90K for taking action against Christian students who shared views on marriage

The University of Idaho, located in Moscow, Idaho.
The University of Idaho, located in Moscow, Idaho. | University of Idaho Photo Services

The University of Idaho has agreed to pay $90,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by three Christian students given "no contact orders" after expressing their religious beliefs in opposition to same-sex marriage. 

As part of the settlement, university officials rescinded the orders against three members of the Christian Legal Society chapter at the university — Peter Perlot, Mark Miller and Ryan Alexander — and CLS's faculty advisor Prof. Richard Seamon.

The settlement was announced by the nonprofit legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the students. 

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The lawsuit was filed in late April after the students were given "no-contact orders" from the university's Office of Civil Rights & Investigations. 

According to the lawsuit, the students attended an LGBT event on campus with the intention of representing a biblical perspective on marriage and sexual ethics. When a student asked them about their views, they offered their perspectives and gave the unnamed student a note expressing an interest in continuing the dialogue.

Instead of the conversation continuing, the three students were ordered not to have any further communication with the student that they had dialogued with.

"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 lawsuit. "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."

"Today's university students will be tomorrow's leaders, judges, and school administrators, so it's imperative that university officials model the First Amendment freedoms they are supposed to be teaching their students," ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said. 

In an earlier statement to The Christian Post, university spokesperson Jodi 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," said Walker at the time.   

CLS attorney Laura Nammo said that to "repair the current culture of political polarization," conversations among people of differing viewpoints "are essential."

"University officials' censorship of such conversations needlessly exacerbates polarization and harms all students' ability to learn from one another," Nammo stated. 

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