Student suspended for sharing Christian beliefs and not policing the gay jokes of others

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Plainwell High School

A lawsuit filed in Michigan reveals an outrageous tale of a Christian high school student being disciplined for sharing his Christian beliefs and, incredibly, not policing others students’ telling of jokes disparaging homosexuals.

A standout varsity football player who also plays and is a section leader in the school marching band, David Stout was suspended from Plainwell High School for three days for, the complaint reads:

  1. expressing his sincerely held Christian beliefs and opinions in a private conversation with another like-minded student on school property;
  2. laughing, allegedly, at inappropriate racial and homophobic “jokes” as told by two other band members during the school’s summer band camp on school grounds and not immediately stopping them from telling inappropriate “jokes;”
  3. sharing his Christian beliefs about heterosexual/homosexual conduct in a series of private text messages, with another child, which did not occur on the school grounds or campus, with school property, at a school sponsored event or field trip, nor was it connected to any functions of the school in any way; and
  4. failing to self-report to Defendants conduct and speech that Plaintiff did not believe were wrong.

The Great Lakes Justice Center is representing student David Stout in the case in federal court in the Western District of Michigan.

Defendants in the case include Plainwell Community Schools, Principal Jeremy Wright, Assistant Principal Deb Beals and band directors David Hepinstall and Austin Hunt. The complaint describes how Hunt ordered Stout into his office, accused him of being responsible for the comments and jokes of other band members since he was a section leader, and accused him of “stealing others’ happiness,” and forbade him from posting “political and religious comments on all social media platforms.”

At a later meeting with Wright and Beals, the two principals allegedly told Stout that his stated “Christian beliefs made others feel unsafe, and they asked him how he would “fix” this situation.”

“Plaintiff stated that he did not know how he would “fix” anything since he had not done anything wrong, and he thought that other kids needed to grow up and learn to cope with others’ beliefs and opinions that are different than theirs.”

The lawsuit requests a declaratory judgment that the Plainwell school district violated his rights, injunctive relief, reversal of the school’s disciplinary action and damages.

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