Students allegedly targeted for Christian marriage beliefs
The University of Idaho College of Law has been sued for actions it took against students who expressed their religious belief in support of the biblical definition of marriage as one man and one woman.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed the First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of three Christian law students at the university, Peter Perlot, Mark Miller and Ryan Alexander, who are members of the Christian Legal Society.
The lawsuit alleged that the public university’s Office of Civil Rights and Investigations issued no-contact orders to the CLS members, which effectively prevented the plaintiffs from communicating with any student peers and restricted them from certain locations on campus.
The university justified their issuance of the no-contact orders through their Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and their Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Policies due to the content and viewpoint of the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs.
The students have expressed that the no-contact orders are a cause of “great stress and anxiety” and are now fearful that any expression of their religious beliefs will lead to further punishment and negatively impact their future careers.
The lawsuit named university officials, including the president of the university, the dean of students, and the director and deputy director of the investigation office.
The university told The College Fix it does “not comment on pending legislation” but in general, “no contact orders are not disciplinary or punitive,” spokesperson Jodi Walker said via email. “They are administrative actions under Title IX.”
The no-contact orders came as a result of complaints from students who took issue with their peers’ opposition to same-sex unions being considered as equal to heterosexual marriages.
The students were not given a chance to review the allegations or defend themselves.
The events which led to the university taking action against the three Christian students started on April 1 when the law school held a “moment of community” to respond to “an anti-LGBTQ+ slur that was left on a whiteboard at the University’s Boise campus.” The lawsuit does not state what the slur was.
The CLS students, including Perlot and Miller, went to show support and prayed together in a circle. In addition to the 10 CLS students, 30 other individuals joined in the community prayer.
A student approached the CLS members and asked them about their club constitution’s statement that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Miller explained the biblical basis for the beliefs and respectfully disagreed.
A student falsely claimed at an April 4 meeting that one student “had told her to go to hell.” Alexander, who was not at the April 1 event, disagreed with the student and said that the biggest form of discrimination on campus is against Christian students. He referenced the delay CLS faced in registering its club the prior semester.
In the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year, CLS tried to register their chapter as a student organization, but the student government repeatedly delayed the process due to their biased opposition to religious beliefs that are an “invalidation of someone’s very existence who is a LGBTQ person.”
As a result, the dean of the law school stepped in to get the CLS chapter approval in November 2021.
“Students of all religious and ideological stripes must be free to discuss and debate the important issues of our day, especially law students who are preparing for a career that requires civil dialogue among differing viewpoints,” ADF attorney Michael Ross stated in a news release.
“Yet the University of Idaho is shutting down Peter, Mark, and Ryan because of their religious beliefs,” Ross stated. “This is illegal behavior from any government official, and we urge the university officials to right their discriminatory actions immediately.”
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