KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a complaint today in federal district court to defend the First Amendment rights of a Missouri State University student punished by school officials for her religious beliefs regarding homosexual adoption.
“The university is supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, and professors should be tolerant of the opinions of Christian students as well as those of non-Christian students,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David French, director of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom. “But at Missouri State University, officials have singled out a student for punishment simply because she refused to write and sign a letter to the state legislature supporting homosexual adoption.”
MSU student Emily Brooker faced an “ethics” committee after school officials informed her that she stood accused of a Level 3 grievance for violation of the School of Social Work’s “Standards of Essential Functioning in Social Work Education.” The Level 3 grievance is the highest level of grievance that an individual can bring against a student. University officials told Brooker she had violated three of the “Standards of Essential Functioning”: Diversity, Interpersonal Skills, and Professional Behavior.
One of Brooker’s MSU professors, Frank G. Kauffman, assigned to his students a project promoting homosexual foster homes and adoption. The project required the entire class to write and individually sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature in support of homosexual adoption, a letter Brooker refused to sign due to her religious objections.
On Dec. 16, 2005, Brooker faced a two-and-a-half hour interrogation by faculty members, who allegedly asked her personally invasive questions such as, “Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners?” and “Do you think I am a sinner?”
“In an institution of higher learning, students should be marked on the quality of their work, not discriminated against on the basis of their religious beliefs,” said French. “At MSU, a Christian student was interrogated by faculty members who attacked her religious beliefs and threatened to withhold her degree. This is a clear violation of her First Amendment rights.”
A copy of the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Southern Division, in the case Brooker v. The Governors of Missouri State University can be read here.
ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom is defending religious freedom at America’s public universities. ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.