HOWELL, Mich. — A judge says the free speech rights of a Michigan teenager were violated when he expressed an opinion against homosexuality and was removed from class during an anti-bullying day.
Detroit federal Judge Patrick Duggan on Wednesday ruled in favor of Daniel Glowacki and ordered Howell High School teacher Johnson “Jay” McDowell to pay $1.
McDowell admits that he ejected Glowacki from class in 2010 when the student said he doesn’t accept gays because of his religion.
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McDowell had played a short video about someone who committed suicide after being bullied about his sexual orientation.
The judge says Glowacki was protected by the First Amendment, and the teacher was “primarily motivated’ by his disagreement with the student’s views.
McDowell said he ejected the student for being disruptive, not for his viewpoints. He was reprimanded by the Howell district and was suspended for one day.
“This had nothing to do with Mr. Glowacki’s religious beliefs,” McDowell’s attorney, Suzanne Bartos, told The Associated Press on Thursday. “(McDowell) did not believe Mr. Glowacki’s comments were appropriate and believed them to be against the school’s anti-bullying policy. Mr. McDowell was acting in a responsible fashion, trying to protect other students in the classroom from the bullying.”
Glowacki missed only 20 minutes of class, Bartos added.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit by Sandra Glowacki, the teen’s mother. Daniel Glowacki graduated in 2012.