A Florida teen-ager and his mother have filed suit against a private Christian school because the student was expelled after campus officials found out he was a homosexual.
Eighteen-year-old Jeffrey Woodard says Jupiter Christian School kicked him out after his Bible-class teacher took him aside and asked him if he was homosexual, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
According to Woodard, when he answered “yes,” a school official contacted his mother, Carol Gload, asking that they meet to discuss her son’s sexual orientation.
“We were basically given three choices – to get counseling for his ‘problem,’ to voluntarily withdraw him, or he would be expelled,” Gload told the paper. “I didn’t think Jeffrey needed therapy … so when I explained he doesn’t need help for anything, he knows who he is, they … expelled him.”
Since the school is private, it was legal for them to expel Woodard, legal experts say.
The student and his mother sued this week for breach of contract, saying nowhere in the school’s written policy does it indicate homosexuals are not allowed.
“We’re asking the court to make the school tell us why they expelled Jeffrey and to show us what their policies are on admitting gays as students at the school,” said Woodard’s attorney, Trent Steele, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “They have the right to discriminate, but what’s troubling to us is the way in which they discriminate.”
According to the report, Gload, a mother of two, said she sent her son to the school because he is a devout Christian and the school is within walking distance of their home.
The school, which serves 690 students, has a policy handbook, but it was unclear how specific it is.
“Our student handbook cannot outline every conceivable issue that comes up, but we have basic procedures that we follow,” school President Richard Grimm told the paper.
Local “gay” and lesbian organizations have rallied around Woodard.
“This is the fear gays and lesbians have, that ‘I can’t tell them I’m gay because I’m going to be fired,’” Tony Plakas, president of Compass Palm Beach County Gay and Lesbian Community Center in West Palm Beach, is quoted by the paper as saying. “Even though we pass ordinances and laws to try to help curb that discrimination, the fact is people feel that inside, and they feel that because of instances like this.”
Karen Doering, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights in Tampa, agrees that the school did nothing illegal.
“Unfortunately, in the state of Florida, discrimination based on sexual orientation is not specifically prohibited by any law,” Doering told the paper. “When it comes to public schools, it is clear the Constitution protects youth based on sexual orientation; however, that does not apply to private schools.”