Thursday, June 20, 2013

Around The Nation

Anti-Gay Arizona Law Group Demands Apology For Classroom Assignment Claiming It Was Anti-Christian
CLIFTON -- A Lawyer for Arizona based Alliance Defending Freedom,(ADF) a Christian legal group, is claiming that a psychology professor is teaching her students religious intolerance. Travis Barham, an ADF staff attorney, wrote a letter to school administrators arguing that a class assignment by professor Linda Brunton was illegal.
“Dr. Brunton’s assignment violates decades (of) clearly established law by compelling students to support in public views they either do not wish to advocate or find abhorrent,” Barham wrote.
Brunton last spring had asked her students to wear a rainbow ribbon and make public statements in support of gay rights. They were then assigned to write a paper about the reactions they got from other people. 
According to Barham, the ADF received complaints from Christian students in Brunton’s class who oppose gay rights.
While Brunton declined comment, Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project, a friend of the professor, said the lawyer’s claims are untrue. According to Sanders, that assignment was voluntary and has been previously commonly used in psychology classes.
"It’s designed to help students gain empathy for gays and lesbians," according to the teaching guide for the assignment, called “Promoting Increased Understanding of Sexual Diversity through Experience Learning.” That guide says that the assignment should be 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.” 
A spokesperson for ADF, David Hacker, noted that teaching students to have empathy or to understand opposing views in the classroom is allowed. But students can’t be required to wear the ribbons outside the class. Hacker would not identify the students who complained about Brunton or say how many there were. He also did not know if the organization had documents showing whether the assignment was required. 
Barham's letter demands an apology from Brunton and claims that she told students that those who oppose gay rights are “uneducated bigots.” 
The ensuing uproar has stirred up controversy in the community. Greg Gwin, the pastor at Collegevue Church of Christ, which is across the street from the college is angered.
“I am increasingly disgusted by the intolerance of those who claim to promote tolerance.”  Wednesday, Gwin had the church sign altered to read, “CSCC: God is not an ‘Uneducated Bigot’ Rom 1:26.27.” 
College officials said in a statement that they are looking into the matter.