A lesbian couple in Tennessee USA are suing a gym teacher who they say made their son attend anti-gay sermons.
The couple claim their son was required to listen to the fitness instructor preach in order to take part in his basketball program.
Now the women, identified as KK and KK, are suing Chuck Comer, the physical education and wellness teacher at West Valley Middle School, Knox County.
The school’s website proudly boasts of the boys’ basketball team’s success in coming third in the state of Tennessee’s championship.
The lawsuit says he used the basketball program to promote meetings for Teens for Christ. The non-profit organization targets teenagers who don’t attend church to make them ‘disciples for Jesus’.
The lawsuit says the couple’s son, ‘AK’, initially believed he was just attending a basketball program. But it claims once Comer ‘lured’ students in, they learned they had to participate in Teens for Christ.
The suit argues that Comer’s meetings violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.
Moreover, the married, interracial couple allege Comer insisted his students arrived early before school starts to listen to him read from the Bible and interpret it for around half an hour twice a week.
The lawsuit states: ‘Even more disturbingly, during his preaching sessions, Comer singled out LGBT “issues” and its relations to “sin”.’
They suit says this is ‘clearly unconstitutional’ and amounts to ‘harassment on the basis of his parents’ sexual orientation’.
Meanwhile, they say the school knew about Comer’s actions. They claim the school allowed him to continue and failed to stop him or train him from acting against the constitution. They are therefore including the county as co-defendants in their suit.
County disputes claim the sermons were compulsory
Knox County Schools dispute the couple’s claim.
The school authorities spokeswoman told TV station WBIR that she couldn’t comment on pending litigation. But she claims attending Bible study wasn’t a prerequisite for playing basketball at any school in the county.
The couple is seeking no less than $1million compensation and $10million or more in punitive damages.