Catholic student ejected for answering question in officially unapproved way:
Federal District Judge Patrick J. Duggan of the Eastern District of Michigan declared the teacher’s actions in punishing Daniel Glowacki violated his First Amendment Rights.
"While the Court certainly recognizes that schools are empowered to regulate speech to prevent students from invading the rights of other students, people do not have a legal right to prevent criticism of their beliefs or for that matter their way of life," Judge Duggan stated in his decision.
"Simply put, the law does not establish a generalized hurt feelings defense to a high school’s violation of the First Amendment rights of its students."
The incident that led to the lawsuit occurred on October 20, 2010.
That day during Daniel’s economics class, teacher Johnson McDowell wore a purple “Tyler’s Army” t-shirt, as part of a national campaign promoted by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to highlight “bullying” of homosexuals.
In testimony at the trial, the court heard that McDowell initiated a discussion about homosexuality when, after telling a female student he was offended by her confederate flag belt buckle and ordering her to remove it, he went on to explain the purple “Tyler’s army” shirt he was wearing was meant to promote tolerance of homosexuality.
The court heard that the teacher specifically asked Daniel about his feelings on homosexuals. When the boy responded that as a Catholic he was offended by the gay and lesbian lifestyle, Daniel was ordered to leave the classroom under threat of suspension.
In an interview with Damian Goddard of the National Organization for Marriage’s Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, Daniel recounted what happened:
“I raised my hand and I asked him what the difference was between him wearing a purple shirt and explaining that to us, but Danielle (another classmate) couldn’t wear her rebel flag belt buckle,” Daniel said. “He asked me if I was really against the homosexual lifestyle and I told him that the homosexual lifestyle was against my Catholic religion.”
An altercation ensued, and Daniel said he quietly left the classroom after McDowell told him “we lost our right to free speech once we stepped inside his classroom.”