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Posted on Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center representing Howell family in First Amendment lawsuit

By Staff

The Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center is representing a Howell High School student and his mother in a lawsuit against the school district over a First Amendment issue, the Livingston Daily reported.

Sandra Glowacki filed suit in U.S. District Court alleging that the First Amendment rights of her son were violated in 2010 when teacher Jay McDowell kicked Daniel Glowacki out of his classroom after he stated his religious beliefs and disapproval of homosexuality. McDowell was disciplined by the school district with a letter of reprimand, the report said.

According to its website, "The Thomas More Law Center is a not-for-profit public interest law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life."

Read the full Livingston Daily report.



Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 2:56 a.m.

Didn't the teacher BAIT the student? Isn't the teacher an economics teacher? Why wasn't the teacher teaching economics? As a parent, it disturbs me that the classrooms are becoming politicized. What compelled the teacher to ask this question? It seems to me that this teacher has an intolerance problem of his own.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 6:56 p.m. has apparently figured out how to stimulate controversy and pump up the volume of Comments: Provide insufficient details as to what happens. The reader can then supplement the skimpy facts with his own invention of what is missing (in line with his particular prejudices) and confidently wax indignant. A few readers were astute enough to ask for more details; they did not get them.

Rork Kuick

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.


Macabre Sunset

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

This is a complicated case. I would have figured it was over when McDowell was disciplined for his behavior. He was using his power as a teacher to bully students (not just Glowacki). Maybe he should be fired, but he is in a protected group, and we have to give people in those groups several chances before firing. Even though I support equality for gay people, I felt McDowell crossed several lines. However, other than being wrongfully kicked out of a class that shouldn't have taken place in the first place, I'm not sure what injured Glowacki. Why is this a lawsuit? Lawsuits cause enormous harm to the entire community because of the resources spent to defend them. There is an irony in Glowacki claiming his views have led to discrimination against him. Nowhere did the Founding Fathers say that people don't have a right to express their feelings toward those they don't agree with. Gay people have been fighting for that same right for a long time now. It takes a lot of guts to take that stand. Glowacki stood up to a bully the same way many gay people have.

Michael K.

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

OK, last post. This is where it really gets into the separation of church and state. They claim "a truth that is evident to right reason" and the support of "natural law" as an objection to tolerance of homosexuity. Now: what if MY religion taught that "Catholics were sub-human monsters that had violated the "natural order" by drinking blood" and thereby teaching cannibalism? Should this be enshrined in law? (FWIW, my dad is Catholic, I was raised Luthern. Just pointing out how lucky they are that religion is a protected class - you can't discriminate based on religion. Sexual orientation is not - yet.) ******** 42. The Catholic Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world...... 45. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, Catholic teaching and moral tradition have always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

Michael K.

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

One more quote from the legal complaint. I was not aware when this first occurred that the day in question was a so-called "Spirit Day", set aside specifically as a day for anti-bullying instruction. This is an item posted in the lawsuit under "Statement of Fact" that represents the underlying conflict in world view under question here: ******************* STATEMENT OF FACTS 17. Prior to October 20, 2010, and continuing to the present day, the School District, in cooperation with the NEA, the MEA, and the HEA, has adopted, authorized, and/or approved policies, practices, customs, and/or procedures that promote homosexuality as acceptable behavior and as an acceptable lifestyle. These policies, practices, customs, and/or procedures portray homosexuality in a positive light and prohibit any contrary viewpoint, such as Plaintiffs' religious viewpoint. Religious viewpoints that do not accept homosexuality, such as Plaintiffs' Catholic viewpoint, are considered harassment, bullying, hate speech, homophobic, or "gay abuse."

Michael K.

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

It is quite interesting to read the actual lawsuit that was filed. Personally, when I read this type of thing, I try to substitute &quot;evangelical&quot; or &quot;christian&quot; or &quot;meat eaters&quot; for homosexual to see how it reads. ************ <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The School District and its officials had knowledge of and permitted the celebration of Spirit Day at Howell High School on October 20, 2010 (hereinafter "2010 Spirit Day"). School District officials understood that Spirit Day was an "anti-bullying" day in which teachers and students wore purple to stop homophobia. 30. The NEA, the MEA, the HEA, and GLAAD, with the cooperation of the School District, promote their pro-gay agenda under the guise of Spirit Day.

Susie Q

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 5:31 p.m.

I guess I am not sure what the plaintiffs hope to gain by this The article states the teacher was reprimanded for his part in this incident. Do they want him fired? Do they want money?

Dog Guy

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

This is yet another story on charter schools.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

hope the kid wins.

Tom Wieder

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

It's difficult to evaluate the validity of a legal claim from a newspaper report. Looking at it as an attorney, and as a 41-year member of the ACLU, I think that the student may have a very valid point, however. None of the facts reported suggest that the student did anything other than express his opinion about homosexuality in the context of a classroom discussion. There is no indication that he used any threatening speech or derogatory slurs against homosexuals. If there were legitimate grounds for ordering him out of the classroom, they don't appear here. It's understandable that many of us who are concerned about the history of mistreatment of certain groups, such as gays, will be sensitive to language suggestive of that mistreatment, but we need to avoid overreaction in the form of shutting down legitimate speech. Having said this, I agree that the Thomas More Law Center's concern for civil livberties is highly selective. It's really only concerned about the civil liberties of people who agree with its views. That sets it apart from the ACLU, which routinely rerpresents people whose views are anathema to the politics and viewpoints of most ACLU members, such as when the ACLU represented Nazis in the 1970's.

tom swift jr.

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

&quot;None of the facts reported suggest that the student did anything other than express his opinion about homosexuality &quot; replace the word Homosexuality with &quot;being black&quot;, &quot;being female&quot;, &quot;being Italian&quot;...get my drift here?

Mike D.

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

More likely than not, there are gay and lesbian children in that classroom. This isn't about oppressing one person's viewpoint; it's about maintaining a safe learning environment for all students. Is it surprising that gay teens are overwhelmingly more likely to commit suicide when there are still people who think this sort of hate speech is OK in a classroom? Expressing religious beliefs is one thing. Perverting Christianity by using it to defend intolerance is quite another.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

Well a strait person will never understand homosexuals. It would be like a man knowing what it's like to be a women, or better, pregnant. Homosexuals are stuck being homosexual, and there is nothing going to change that fact.Once upon a time, there was no such word for gay, and everyone was bisexual to a degree by today's standards. Now that there is well tested facts that homosexuals are born this way. I personally have read the reports and data, and I have no other choice but to believe this to be true. There is no way religion can stop a natural event by any means. Although if it was not for gay rights, these religious fanatics would have homosexuals put to death. It is a natural event, so God wanted it this way and all religions need to get with this fact. Personally I am all for homosexuals. They can't raise the population in our already over populated world, and they can adopt the unwanted kids. Homosexuality is not a disease, perversion, or persuasion, and one will know if they are or not. I knew a guy who did not like being gay and wanted to have sex with a female, but could not. He said that for some reason only men gives him sexual arousal, and did not want it, so he became a priest. Go figure!


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

Rodney king said can't we all get along, freedom of speech is gone now. Peoples who's view's are in the Minority now have the right to say hate speech when someone stands up civilly and presents the other side of the coin.

Jim Toy

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Responding to clownfish - Google: thomas more law center pioneer high school &quot;School Retreats From Pro-Homosexual Policy After Student Club Threatens Lawsuit <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> | October 14, 2002 | Thomas More Law Center&quot; [excerpt] &quot;. . . during the so-called "Diversity Week" held at Pioneer High School last March, students were not allowed to express their Christian view of homosexuality during a panel discussion that the school sponsored for the purpose of discussing religion and homosexuality. The Gay Straight Alliance student club, with the support of school officials, monopolized this discussion by presenting only the view of several adults who claimed to be clergy of denominations that support the homosexual lifestyle. School officials prevented any other view to be expressed during this event, which occurred during the school day. This has resulted in a federal lawsuit, which was filed this past July by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Betsy Hansen and her mother, challenging the school's actions. . . . &quot; I was informed at the time that student groups who wanted to present panel discussions had to file a request to do so by a deadine. The Gay Straight Alliance apparently met the deadline. &quot;School officials prevented any other view to be expressed during this event&quot; - allegedly the student group Pioneers for Christ did not meet the deadline and asked to be represented on the panel organized by the Gay Straight Alliance. The GSA allegedly refused to allow the requested participation. Maybe someone closer to the event or who has access to school records could clarify this reported history?


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

If you remember the original story here, the teacher lost control in the classroom, kicking desks/chairs, and throwing a temper tantrum. He happens to be a representative of his teachers union and, of course, the union fought for his original discipline of suspension and he ONLY received the reprimand. This lawsuit is totally justified! The student was bullied by his teacher for stating his belief, for standing up for what he believes is right. The only hate and bullying in the story was that of the teacher. I dont hate gays, any other group of individuals, or any single individual. The gay lifestyle is wrong/sinful in the eyes of God and because of the choice to give in to the sinful temptation, as with any other sinful temptation, the kindom of heaven will not be theirs as The Bible says.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

@clownfish a proper study and understanding of the bible shows why there are some laws given in the old testament that are not upheld in the new testament...the teachings of jesus are based on principles instead of laws but the principles were shown in the original laws

Rork Kuick

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

I'm thinking Lev 20:27 is saying to stone witches to death. Execution method for adultery, the wrong kinds or sex, or cursing of parents was not perfectly clear to me, but stoning has the advantage of engaging the community.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Should we burn witches? Bible says we HAVE to. Adulterers? How about politicians that lie or bring false witness against others?


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Does anybody know what the Thomas Law Center's record is in court? Does the Law Center spend any time fighting something Jesus spoke about at length, poverty? Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and was quite inclusive in his outreach. Does this kid hate shrimp too? Divorcees?


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.

I would think that those in charge would cut some sort of deal so this case wouldn't be front and center. Apparently i would think wrong.

Basic Bob

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

It's no different than someone saying they don't believe in affirmative action. It's just an opinion, not necessarily right or wrong, but protected.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:41 a.m.

The teacher was wrong. The kid wasn't hiring anybody or in any other position of &quot;discriminating&quot;. He merely stated an opinion. This teacher is a bully and abused his authority trying to suppress independent thinking and strong arm a &quot;politically correct&quot; agenda that is only politically correct BECAUSE&quot; of our value of free speech. He should be fired and the district should not pay anything to defend him.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

There are a number of rulings regarding free speech in public schools, and the rulings have come down for, in some cases, and against, in others. It would help to know exactly what was said and in what context (to decide if it was hate speech, unsolicited speech that was disruptive, or something within the student's constitutional rights). A teacher surely should have the power to send a disruptive student out of the classroom. When I'm teaching, I don't expect a student to have the right to interrupt me to state his or her views, whenever he or she feels like it. Before people support this lawsuit, they should ask who will be paying for the defense. Is it an example of Republicans carelessly spending taxpayer money?


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

I agree, was religious beliefs an appropriate item of discussion for this class. Was it a math class discussing right angles or a social studies class discussing interpersonal relationships. Did he state this before class to someone in the chair next to him or stand up and yell it during a test? Was the student truly denied his freedom of speech or just asked to go do it somewhere else? But of course nobody seems interested in telling the real truth of the situation!


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 11:58 p.m.

My understanding from the original article, is that the student did not speak his mind until he was asked to. If he does not believe homosexuality is right and he does not feel homosexuals should be allowed to marry, that is his right. I don't adhere to that way if thinking, but respect the rights of others IN THE UNITED STATES, to voice their opinion. Since when is it considered hate speech to speak your mind when you aren't using derogatory terms? When I saw the headline of the original article, I rolled my eyes thinking that another spoiled kid had his parents taking this too far on his behalf. In this case, the teacher should be fired and the district needs to put a policy in place that forbids teachers from forcing kids to make their beliefs known if the result is going to be expulsion.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

I strongly disagree that the teacher should be fired over this but I agree with the rest of what you wrote.

David Briegel

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

And God said &quot;don't use me to justify YOUR hatred for others&quot;!


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:23 a.m.

There are so many interpretations of specific sections of the Bible, that both sides can use it to justify their positions. If this kid only stated that he disagrees with gay rights, that in and of itself is not hateful. That is a belief just as you hold your beliefs true and dear to your heart. These beliefs are protected by the first amendment to allow you to express your beliefs.

David Briegel

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 2:26 a.m.

And asking in vain for Christian love? Or hatred?


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

And God said &quot;Thou shalt not use my name in vain&quot;.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:59 p.m.

It seems people are jumping on the student and the family thinking that this was some form of &quot;hate speech&quot;. Is there a record somewhere of what exactly was said? I do not condone hate speech and bullying, but in the same way that a homosexual has a right to their opinions and views, so does a person that does not agree with that lifestyle. And depending on what the situation actually was (were other students expressing their views? what was the context that the statements were made in? were the student's views shared in a reasonable factual way or were they shared in form of an attack?) this student may have had the right to make his statements. If students cannot openly discuss in a peaceful manner what their personal beliefs are on such topics just because there happens to be others who feel differently, then none of the students should be allowed to share their beliefs...for or against anything.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

&quot;...but the real sin is to act on the desires...&quot; You may personally believe this, and live your life based on this, BUT this is not what any Christian religion teaches (or any other religion that I know of). Two of only ten commandments is about coveting. Try looking into Buddhism with respect to cravings.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

i'm sorry let me clarify...yes the bible condemns desires but the real sin is to act on the desires instead of endeavoring to squash such fleshly really the issue is actions and intentions


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

Thou shalt not covet... To covet is to desire.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

no because i would not approve of a christian student saying that either...especially because that is not what the bible teaches. but if it was a situation where a gay student stood up to speak for gay rights and then the other student was given permission to share the basis for their beliefs as long as they were not targeted against a specific person i think it's ok. the reason i am ok with this is because if it is done correctly then what would be shared is that the bible does not condemn people or desires, it condemns actions. this is not just true with homosexuality.

David Briegel

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 11:16 p.m.

So, if a gay kid stood up in class and lectured that hetero's were evil and bound for eternal damnation in a fiery Hell, you would approve?


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

I was born and raised Christian. However, I was taught tolerance, love, and understanding of others. I am constantly telling my grandchildren that Jesus was NOT like the Thomas Mores. Jesus embraced and loved the very people that they are tormenting in His name. They are the most bigoted, intolerant, hateful, and self-righteous people you can come across, and they're teaching this garbage to they're kids. Makes you want to RUN, not walk, away from these people (just in case it's contagious)! Amen, to the insightful person who stood up to this ridiculous mother and her offspring!


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

This family/law school are trying to get a pass on the &quot;( religious) license to bully&quot; exception that was rejected recently by the state legislature, despite teaparty types' efforts to keep it. This effort to enshrine fanaticism as a &quot;right&quot; will eventually go down in flames as did the Thos. More effort to force creationism into public school curricua in Dover pennsylvania. &quot;Bad law school!! no treats for you!! &quot;

tom swift jr.

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:17 p.m.

I am ashamed to admit I live in the same county as this woman.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:43 p.m.

You can move...


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

There's a whole lot more to this story than is being reported here, and personally I am in favor of protecting everyone's right to free speech, even those I disagree with, but the classroom is not an appropriate forum for making moral judgments about other students. Indeed, had the case any merit, the ACLU that Thomas More so despises would have signed on to it alongside them, as they have countless other times. If Thomas More stands up for &quot;freedom of speech&quot; and religious liberty, or even Christian values, I'm Aunt Jemima. The vast majority of their caseload is dedicated to reducing individual liberty for others, fearmongering about Muslims and gays, censoring access to opposing views, taking away health insurance from kids who happen to have gay parents, and forcing others to witness, participate in, and subsidize their personal beliefs; the only time they ever stand up for free speech is when it agrees with their political agenda. Had this been a student making derogatory comments about Catholicism, there is no question that they would have sided with the teacher that asked the student to leave. Regardless of my own personal beliefs, hurtful personal attacks on others have no place in the classroom, as it creates a hostile learning environment and does harm to student self-esteem at a critical point of their lives. If this kid cannot deal with the horrific notion of being expected to tolerate and learn about diversity in a neutral, non-judgmental environment, perhaps the public school system is not the right place for him.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 5:36 a.m.

&quot;Aunt Jemima&quot; Really?


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:48 a.m.

Free speech and expression works both ways guy.

Usual Suspect

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:47 a.m.

&quot;censoring access to opposing views&quot; Which is exactly what this teacher and shool district did.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

So Tom if everyone doesn't think like you....they're wrong?

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:55 a.m.

Well said.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

Excellent post, thank you!


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.


Usual Suspect

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

I'm glad the Thomas More Law Center is stepping in here to protect Constitutionally-protected speech from attack by the oppressives. Oh, sorry, I meant the progressives. I'm sure the left will try to paint this as an instance of bullying, which it obviously wasn't.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

David...neither the bible NOR the constitution are anything other than human attempts to address the needs of the writers' place and time... Both should be ( and actually always have been) trumped/amended based on ever evolving standards of knowledge, common sense and common decency . In all of which the Thos More crew has shown itself to be notably deficient based on both the cases they take and their grads , like shirvell esq.

David Briegel

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

I wish the Thomas More Ctr cared as much about our Constitution as they care about their &quot;interpretation&quot; of the bible!


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

The Secular Progressives are going to get whacked over this one..... Somebody in the District Administration really screwed up to let it get to this point.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

Moved out right after that cross burned on their lawn?

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

Secular progressives? In Howell, Michigan. What a laugh. I think they both moved out last year.