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Posted on Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

American Family Association threatens lawsuit against Saline school district

By Tara Cavanaugh

The American Family Association of Michigan has accused Saline school board members of pressuring administrators to "punish a teacher" for speaking out against proposed changes in the district's non-discrimination policy and threatened the district with a lawsuit if such pressure does not stop.

Gary Glenn, president of the organization, sent the following e-mail Monday to the board, Superintendent Scot Graden and members of the news media:

“If members of the Saline school board continue to pressure school officials to punish a teacher for daring exercise his First Amendment-guaranteed free speech right to express opposition to your changing school district policy to give special ‘protected class’ status to students who engage in homosexual behavior and cross-dressing, thus threatening further harassment and discrimination against students and teachers who believe such behavior is unhealthy, harmful, and wrong, the district will find itself on the receiving end of a federal civil rights lawsuit (a lengthy and expensive process which Saline taxpayers will be forced to pay for).”

The school board is considering changing the non-discrimination policy to add “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.” The board is scheduled to vote on the policy on Oct. 12.

On Tuesday, Glenn said e-mails show Board President David Friese and Trustee Lisa Slawson tried to encourage punitive action against a teacher at the high school who expressed opposition to the proposed changes to the non-discrimination policy. Glenn said he has not seen the e-mails. “I believe the people who have given this information to us," he said.

Friese said he had sent no such e-mails. “No action has been taken against any staff member regarding this issue," he said. "No member of the administration has talked to a staff member regarding this issue to my knowledge.”

Friese added, "“No one from the administration has talked to (Glenn)."

Slawson said the entire board received an e-mail Saturday night from a teacher who opposed changing the non-discrimination policy. Slawson said felt that she was personally bullied in the letter, because it mentioned her name and suggested that she step down from her position.

Slawson said she responded by writing an -email to Graden. Slawson but did not suggest that any action be taken against the teacher.

She told Graden she'd like to meet with the teacher. She also forwarded the teacher's letter to Tim Heim, the union president, and wrote to Heim, "With all due respect, I will not be bullied by a district employee.”

"What I said I don’t think any court of law would say I asked for him to be punished," Slawson said. Slawson holds a law degree from Indiana University.

Slawson said she reserves her right to file a complaint against the teacher, noting that the district's bullying policy applies to board and staff members.

Glenn would not comment when asked if the teacher who sent the e-mail is the one who contacted the American Family Association.


Gary Perrydore

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

@salineguy1 I would also welcome the opportunity to speak with you about Church teaching and your dissent from it. Promoting authentic Church teaching is simply speaking the truth, not speaking for anyone else. Anyone can reject that teaching - God granted us free will. However, rejection doesn't change truth. Jesus admonishes us to seek to enter through the narrow gate - unfortunately our culture seems intent on rebuilding the gate to make the opening larger. I think it is a struggle many deal with. I know it has been for me. Somewhere along the way I realized that it didn't make sense for me to pick and choose what I thought was true. I am open to exploring this with you further, but only outside of this blog. Peace.

Due Diligence

Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 8:46 p.m.

@salineguy1 In a venue other than a news article blog, I would be happy to discuss matters of the Catholic Faith with you, person to person. As a member of St. Andrew Church and the former Coord. of Youth Ministries there, I can assure you that some of the views you expressed above do not represent Church teaching. Please feel free to contact me if you like...I'll pay for the coffee. Tom Frederick


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

To salinebill: Leviticus 19:19 says to wear clothes of two different materials is an abomination. Therefore, that cotton/poly blend you are wearing is a basis for stoning. With that said, I am just trying to point out that many believers of a particular faith do not always agree with every dictate of their religion. And that some dictates are read metaphorically and some literally. In most cases, I would assume people read this metaphorically as a statement about not being hypocritical. Then again, others may read it literally. If the latter were the case are we going to see a whole new series of murders in the name of God because people wore a blended textile? I think the whole argument of who is a true Catholic between two Catholics (or any other religion for that matter) is ridiculous. That's just like the litmus test Republicans were thinking of endorsing to ensure that candidates toed the party platform on every issue. I think this whole thing is a great a example of what the founding fathers warned us about when we let politics and religion mix as well as the founding of political parties. As Michael Franti said, "God is too big for just one religion." The idea of America should be too big for just one nation. Hopefully, we will continue grow as a nation in a way that we continue to be the ideal for the world and not just another failed political experiment. If religious fanatics want such a say in politics then they and their churches should start paying taxes and hefty ones at that because the rest of America and its ideal is already paying a hefty price for their fanaticism.


Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 3:06 a.m.

@clownfish & @forever21 Don't see your tie to Christians getting involved with politics to churches paying taxes? Christians pay property taxes on their homes like you do, and income taxes like you do. @salineguy1 If you are so opposed to Catholic beliefs why stay Catholic? There are many sins listed in the Bible and the last time I checked the Bible, any sexual relationship outside of marriage is sin whether is be straight or not. I agree with those who posted that we should not single anyone out, but teach our kids to not discriminate - period. Funny how some have posted that it's not right to discriminate, but turn right around and state that Christians should keep their thoughts to themselves or don't have rights to "our" political process. See the irony? John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER (emphasis added) believes on Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life" My prayer is that as a community we will seek the best interest of ALL students and not try to push a specific agenda.


Sun, Oct 10, 2010 : 8:27 p.m.

As a member of St. Andrews Church and friends with many people in our parish, I highly doubt there is going to be an exodus if the anti-discrimination policy is accepted. I am in support of this change as are many others in our parish. The average American Catholic uses birth control, believes that priests should be allowed to marry and believes that women should be ordained. We all also believe that homosexuality is not a sin (nor is it a choice). It is a minority of conservative St. Andrews members that are voices their opinion and should not be speaking for the rest of us.

Merrill Poliner

Fri, Oct 8, 2010 : 8:05 p.m.

If the teacher made derogatory comments about any other biologically inherent characteristics like eye, hair or skin color, there would be no debate at all. If the teacher wants to make comments relative to a religious belief that can be done in their place of worship.


Fri, Oct 8, 2010 : 4:06 p.m.

This does NOT reflect my opinion on this (I'm for the discrimination policy, but the teacher being punished is a different issue entirely), but I thought first amendment rights were only protected publicly. Aren't they consequences for things you say privately that aren't protected by the government?


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 7:18 p.m.

SEA - what does that stand for?


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 5:31 p.m.

Watch for SEA hand in the Nov. election. Board candidate Todd Carter is being financed by them.


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 5:25 p.m.

Folks, let's remember, 70 years ago we were torturing African Americans, and looking back we are appalled at the heinous crimes committed against them. What will they say about us in 70 years? We are in the midst of the new Civil Rights movement. Let's hope that the future will look back and say that Saline took a step in the right direction!


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 3 p.m.

Well, the change is being made because the ACLU was bullying the Saline Area School District. The timing may be right for St. Andrews to establish a grade school and high school. When the enrollment drops, the administration and union will be in full panic. You could see upwards of 600 students you do the math.


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 3 p.m.

So let me get this straight: Gary Glenn is threatening to sue people over an email he hasn't even seen, and he wants us to believe that THEY are the bullies? I hope the school board stands up to HIS bullying tactics and votes to add sexual orientation and gender expression and identity to the policy. Let's protect the victims, and not confuse them with the bullies.

Jimmy Olsen

Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

@clownfish so when sexual orientation is named, the bullies will move on to, what? blue eyed kids? then they are named, then what, freckled kids? You don't need to name - you need to teach respect for all kids (and adults). And this teaching starts and home - shouldn't have to be taught in school, just reinforced.


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

The reason there is a need to specify groups is because other people pick those groups out for harassment. I agree that in a good world a simple no-harassment policy would be best, and I think most schools already have that.

Jimmy Olsen

Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

@taunt So private schools only take straight kids? Lets continue the conversation in an adult manner and be part of the solution not adding to the problem.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

Losing Students. One thing is sure - Saline Schools is going to loose students as this gay rights issue moves through. Private schools will pick up even more kids.

Jimmy Olsen

Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 10 a.m.

@dogpaddle, etc how about they just take out all the named reasons why we don't discriminate and bully and harass and replace them with "we don't discriminate and bully and harass for ANY REASON". that way we don't have to include/exclude/offend anyone who feels disenfranchised.


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 9:53 a.m.

I think someone hinted at this already, but, can't the language be written that prejudice against anyone for their associations or beliefs is against policy. Why discriminate and name one group(s) over some another? It seems both sides have their right to free speech and practice, but the entire community would benefit from good arguments for each point versus attacks against opposing individual's character. If the argument is sound, you should be able to present it on it's own merit, and not have to knock down the knees of the opposition. I'm glad to see people passionate about a cause, it's how the rest of us (can) get more knowledgeable about the topic, just hate to see drama in an otherwise very respected district.


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

How many young people have to commit suicide before ALL school districts add sexual orientation (which includes straight kids, too) to their non-discrimination policies? How many school districts have to get sued successfully for the lack of protection they failed to give ALL students before ALL school districts will see this as one of their many missions? And, as for the science teacher imparting "bad science", the state of Michigan has a set curriculum for core subject areas and I don't believe this "hooey" about "same sex attraction disorder" is one of the standards to master in any area of science. I hope this time next week we are commending Saline for continuing to move forward in this necessary step.


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

The Saline Board and Administration should be commended for addressing this issue in a manner that protects students, staff and administration. The teacher has the right of free speech and can object all that he/she desires, but is also subject to the consequences of their comments when uttered in the context of work. I suspect that part of his/her contractual agreement with the Saline Board of Education is to uphold and enforce the policies of the district as part of his/her duties. He/she can object to; but has a contractual duty to follow the policies when enacted. I would suggest a job change for that individual, something a bit more regressive than public education.


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 7:52 a.m.

Like another story floating around, the Case of Asst Attorney General Shirvill, apparently the Radical Xtians have forgotten that homosexuals have the same Constitutional rights as the religious right. They have a right to to life and liberty, a right to not be harassed or excluded. Any person that considers themselves a libertarian or a true conservative should be standing up for the rights granted by the Supreme Court, not out maligning folks because of one line written thousands of years ago by people that feared pork, shellfish and witchcraft. I agree with some other posters, if these Christians are going to be so involved in our political process, then they should pay taxes on their property.


Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 5:35 a.m.

Firstly, I find it interesting that Glenn Gary says he did not see the emails in which school board members "pressure school officials to punish a teacher for daring exercise his First Amendment-guaranteed free speech right..." How can you stand up for someone when you're not 100% sure what exactly was said. Secondly, you won't find anything online anywhere from a teacher at the high school referencing "Same Sex Attraction Dissorder." That I know of, that was supposedly contained in a "private" email from some unidentified person to the school board. It would be nice if someone in the district felt so strongly about the decision facing the board he or she would take the time to show up at a school board meeting and express their opinion in a public forum rather than sending a private email. Particularly now that "someone" has contacted the AFA and made this person's "private" comments a very public issue, threatening lawsuits and all. If you feel you have a valid point about this issue, have the courage to stand up and say so, in public, for all to hear - kinda like the students that have been addressing the school board for months on this issue. They are not trying to hide behind the anonymity of "private" emails.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 6:56 p.m.

@Bill Dudley Did I miss something? It is a science teacher at the high school? Can you steer me to where you read about quoting some absurd 'scientific' journal? That is amazing.

Gary Perrydore

Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 6:50 p.m.

Lisa Slawson stated at the last meeting that students don't know who they can go to with this quote as reported by "A lot of kids just dont report it, board trustee Lisa Slawson said. They dont know who is a safe person to contact or a safe place to go. "For me this isnt an LGBTQ issue," she said. "Its about equality. Its about fairness. Its about people who need their civil rights protected. Her comment admits that an amendment to the policy won't work, because the kids aren't reporting the issues anyway. She calls out the teachers when she says the children don't know who to go to but a change in policy won't impact that. Slawson says it's about fairness, that all should be protected. So why is she supporting a change that only includes a specific group of people versus a broader policy that would include ALL students. Why is it ok for teachers to publicly endorse this mis-guided change in policy but not ok for a teacher to send a private communication expressing opposition to it? Public endorsement is praised but for sending a letter to the board, this teacher is called on the carpet. Who is the real bully? This comes from the board policy manual: No member of the Board of Education shall engage in, or be a party to, any of the following activities: 2. Placing him/herself in situations where prejudice, bias, favoritism or personal gain is a motivating force in his/her conduct. Trustee Slawson should recuse herself from the vote due to bias as it is a matter of public record of a family member being in the Spectrum group. Also, Board Members shall: 4. Encourage the free expression of opinion by all Board members and seek systematic communications between the Board, students, staff, and all elements of the community. Again Trustee Slawson has risked breaking another board policy through the handling of the situation with this teacher. Lastly, the content of the teachers letter has been made public as evidenced by the comments from Mr. Dudley related to this article. It is apparent that Mr. Dudley has knowledge of the teacher and the content of the article. This is very troubling. Again, I ask who is really being bullied? Certainly not Trustee Slawson.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 6:41 p.m.

It seems pretty simple. If the board chooses not to add the "six precious words" to the policy, they should remove all of the wording. After all, we are giving special "protected class" status to those folks already listed. That certainly doesn't seem fair. Women, minorities have gotten a free ride long enough (that is sarcasm for all you AFA fans out there). I would hope Saline is looking forward, giving ALL students and staff the protection they need under the policy. I'm amazed this is even an issue in 2010.

Bill Dudley

Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

The 1st amendment allows us to speak without prosecution but it doesn't protect us from the consequences of that speech. If I wrote a public letter saying my bosses' bosses' boss should resign in shame and disgrace, I would expect some consequences at work. It's an embarrassment that this issue is even being debated. Contrary to the rhetoric of organizations like the AFA, the board policy would not give special rights to any group. It just says you can't discriminate based on sexual orientation, etc. So discrimination isn't allowed against heterosexual or homosexual students. Why is that fairness so hard to accept? As a parent and community member I also find it very troubling that any teacher, worst of all a high school science teacher, is speaking and writing about "Same Sex Attraction Disorder" and quoting pseudo-scientific writings of the "National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality". This is who the district has selected to teach my child? Shouldn't a science teacher be able to tell what constitutes real science?

Paul Taylor

Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

Gary Glenn was a carpetbagger who came to Michigan a decade ago to bring the AFA brand of crazy to the state, by force of out-of-state money, if need be. He and his ilk are simply angry, angry, angry and think the slightest difference from their ideals is an affront and a threat against their craziness. They funnel out-of-state money into Michigan in order to force a lifestyle and belief system on us. Quite frankly, for just that reason alone I would be offended. That they are trying to spread their crazy-hate just adds fuel to the fire. I am glad I am not he, for I'd need antacids on an hourly basis.


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 1:41 p.m.

Here we go again. Religious people trying to force their views on everyone else. How much longer will we let cults dictate public discourse and policy from a tax-free status?


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 12:49 p.m.

I am trying to understand the logic of this. The AFA wants to sue to protect someone's right to discriminatory but free speech (of course based on religious conviction--that's fine and good s/he can believe whatever s/he wants at home) as a representative of a publicly funded school? Does this mean we can tax churches now? Goodbye Federal and State deficits!


Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

Bring it!