Christian Legal Group Complains About Assignment
COLUMBIA, Tenn. - Columbia State Community College officials say they’re investigating a professor’s assignment about gay rights.
According to The Daily Herald a Christian legal group sent the college a letter about Professor Linda Brunton’s psychology class assignment. The Alliance Defending Freedom said students complained to the group.
Some students objected to being told to wear a rainbow ribbon and make statements in support of gay rights. They were then to write a paper detailing discrimination they faced for their perceived support.
Travis Christopher Barham, legal counsel for the Christian group, stated in the letter to the college that Brunton’s assignment violated principals of the First Amendment.
"This assignment posed serious problems for students who did not wish to convey this message and particularly those - like those who contacted us - whose religious convictions prohibit them from supporting conduct their faith teaches is unnatural and immoral," Barham wrote.
On its website, the alliance describes itself as an American conservative Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to "defending the right to hear and speak the Truth."
The group asked the college to investigate the assignment, discipline Brunton and order her to apologize to students.
In an email Wednesday afternoon, college officials said they would comply with the request to investigate the assignment.
"When the allegations were brought to the attention of college officials, Columbia State Community College began an investigation, which is currently ongoing and congruent with Board policy and applicable laws," the statement said.
Brunton was unavailable for comment.
However Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project, who said he is a friend of Brunton’s, said the assignment was voluntary.
"Students were allowed to opt out, and some did," Sanders said. "And students were told that if they felt uncomfortable, they could take off the ribbons."
Sanders also said the exercise is commonly used in psychology classes.
Columbia State student Jeff Vernon told The Tennessean he took a class with Brunton two years ago and she described those who oppose gay rights as hateful, which offended him.
But Vernon said wearing the ribbon was a voluntary extra-credit assignment. He didn’t take part and said it didn’t affect his grade.