HOWELL, Michigan, May 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The testimony of a Catholic teen and his mother has shed light on the story of how one high school teacher managed to spark a national media blitz that led to their branding as “maliciously anti-gay Catholic bigots” - all because the teen disclosed his religious beliefs about homosexuality in a classroom altercation.

Daniel Glowacki and his mother Sandy from Howell, Michigan tell of how high school economics teacher Jay McDowell was launched to national hero status after the latter began spreading his story of “confronting homophobia” on radio interviews and elsewhere.

Both Daniel and school officials say McDowell sparked the conversation in a Howell High School classroom in 2010 when, after telling a female student to remove her Confederate flag belt buckle, he explained the purple “Tyler’s army” shirt he was wearing was meant to promote tolerance of homosexuality.

“I rasied my hand and I asked him what the difference was between him wearing a purple shirt and explaining that to us, but Danielle couldn’t wear her rebel flag belt buckle,” Daniel told the National Organization for Marriage’s Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance. “He asked me if I was really against the homosexual lifestyle and I told him that the homosexual lifestyle was against my Catholic religion.”

An altercation ensued, and Daniel says he quietly left the classroom after McDowell told him “we lost our right to free speech once we stepped inside his classroom.”

“As I was walking out into the hallway he came running out after me, calling me a racist and a bigot, telling me he’s going to get me suspended for bullying and harassment against gays,” said the teen. “When he started yelling at me, I was just kind of in shock, I didn’t know how to react to it.”

Sandy Glowacki told NOM she talked to McDowell afterwards and said her son would apologize for engaging in the dispute. Ms. Glowacki described her surprise when news later trickled in that the story had been on the radio: McDowell had taken to local airwaves to tell his version of events, which she says are false.

“There was Mr. McDowell on the news saying that this kid came into the classroom spewing homophobic and racial slurs, and I’m listening, and I’m like, that’s not what happened,” said Ms. Glowacki, fighting back tears. “He just kept going ... just telling lies about what had happened, and turned it all into ‘Daniel is this terrible kid who busted into the classroom.’ He just wouldn’t let it go.”

The story hit national news after a video of 14-year-old Graeme Taylor defending McDowell before the school board went viral on gay rights blogs and other media.

“This teacher ... finally stood up and said something .... There’s a silent holocaust in which an estimated 6 million gay people every year kill themselves. Is this really the environment we want for our school?” said Taylor, who was awarded a $10,000 scholarship on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

A petition on Change.org, a website that has hosted major progressive petitions, hosted one supporting McDowell that stated in part: “Imagine that a student comes bursting through the classroom doors, wearing a big, bright, shiny Confederate flag as a belt buckle, and telling the entire class that he doesn’t accept gay people. Would that student then deserve to be disciplined?”

School officials had suspended McDowell without pay, citing several student witnesses confirming that the teacher improperly lost his temper against Glowacki, but later paid McDowell and took a reprimand out of his file - a reversal Ms. Glowacki said made her feel “physically sick.”

The Glowackis have taken McDowell and school officials to court.