DETROIT, December 8, 2003 ( – In a strongly worded opinion issued late Friday, Detroit Federal Judge Gerald Rosen upheld the right of a Christian student to express her religious beliefs opposing homosexuality during her high school’s “Diversity Week” program that was designed to promote the homosexual agenda. The case involved a federal lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm, on behalf of student Betsy Hansen whose religious views against homosexuality were censored and excluded from the 2002 “Diversity Week” program held at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School.

During the 2002 Diversity Week program, Pioneer High School officials prevented Hansen from expressing her Roman Catholic view on homosexuality at the “Homosexuality and Religion” panel, and they censored a speech she was asked to give on the topic, “What Diversity Means to Me.” School officials claimed that Betsy’s religious view toward homosexuality was a “negative” message and would “water-down” the “positive” religious message that they wanted to convey-that homosexual behavior is not immoral or sinful.  School officials handpicked religious leaders who endorsed the school’s pro-homosexual “religious” belief to sit on the panel, and they denied Hansen’s request to have a panel member who would express the Roman Catholic belief on homosexuality.

Judge Rosen’s 70-page opinion began with blistering criticism of the school:  “This case presents the ironic, and unfortunate, paradox of a public high school celebrating ‘diversity’ by refusing to permit the presentation to students of an ‘unwelcomed’ viewpoint on the topic of homosexuality and religion, while actively promoting the competing view.  This practice of ‘one-way diversity,’ unsettling in itself, was rendered still more troubling-both constitutionally and ethically-by the fact that the approved viewpoint was, in one manifestation, presented to students as religious doctrine by six clerics (some in full garb) quoting from religious scripture.  In its other manifestation, it resulted in the censorship by school administrators of a student’s speech about ‘what diversity means to me,’ removing that portion of the speech in which the student described the unapproved viewpoint.”

The judge recalled the Supreme Court’s admonition in another school speech case:  In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. . . [and] students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate.  They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved.” (quoting from Tinker v. DesMoines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 511 (1969)).  Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, applauded the opinion.  “Judge Rosen displayed judicial courage by refusing to bend to the winds of political correctness, and he decided the case according to the well established law.  This is a tremendous victory for the First Amendment rights of Christian students and a tremendous defeat for those who consider public schools as their private platform to advance the homosexual agenda.”

Judge Rosen held that the Ann Arbor Public Schools and several of its employees violated Hansen’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech and the equal protection of the law.  He also concluded that the school officials violated the Establishment Clause by inviting the pro-gay clergy to hold a panel on “Homosexuality and Religion.” Rosen instructed Hansen’s attorneys to file with the court an application for attorneys’ fees, which could cost the Ann Arbor Public Schools up to $100,000.