Is this what we send our children to college for

 Are you tired of the Intolerant…teaching tolerance?

Columbia State professor’s assignment about gay rights sparks protest

Jun. 20, 2013 4:40 AM 

A professor at Columbia State Community College wanted to teach her students a lesson about diversity.

Instead, she’s being accused of religious intolerance.

At issue is an assignment in a class taught this spring by psychology professor Linda Brunton. Students claim they were required to wear a rainbow ribbon and make public statements in support of gay rights. They were then assigned to write a paper about the reactions they got from other people.

Lawyers from the Phoenix-based Alliance Defending Liberty, a Christian legal group, said they received complaints from Christian students in Brunton’s class who oppose gay rights.

Travis Barham, an Alliance Defending Liberty attorney, claimed in a letter to Columbia State that the assignment was illegal.

“Dr. Brunton’s assignment violates decades (of) clearly established law by compelling students to support in public views they either do not wish to advocate or find abhorrent,” Barham wrote.

Brunton declined to comment for this story.

But Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project, a friend of the professor, said the lawyer’s claims are untrue. He said the assignment was voluntary and is commonly used in psychology classes.

It’s designed to help students gain empathy for gays and lesbians, according to a teaching guide for the assignment, called “Promoting Increased Understanding of Sexual Diversity through Experience Learning.” That guide says that the assignment should be voluntary.

“Students were allowed to opt out, and some did,” Sanders said. “And students were told that if they felt uncomfortable, they could take off the ribbons.”

David Hacker of Alliance Defending Freedom said that teaching students to have empathy or to understand opposing views in the classroom is allowed. But students can’t be required to wear the ribbons outside the class.

Hacker would not identify the students who complained about Brunton or say how many there were. He also did not know if the organization had documents showing whether the assignment was required.

The letter also claims that Brunton called those who oppose gay rights “uneducated bigots.” It demands that Brunton apologize to students she offended.

College officials said in a statement that they are looking into the matter.

The allegations angered Greg Gwin, the minister at Collegevue Church of Christ, which is across the street from the college. On Wednesday, the church changed its sign to read, “CSCC: God is not an ‘Uneducated Bigot’ Rom 1:26,27.”

“I am increasingly disgusted by the intolerance of those who claim to promote tolerance,” Gwin said.

Columbia State student Jeff Vernon, who attends Collegevue Church of Christ, said he took a class with Brunton two years ago. He said she was clear about her support for gay rights and at one point described those who oppose gay rights as hateful.

“I take offense at that,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone.”

But wearing the ribbon was a voluntary, extra-credit assignment, Vernon said. He did not participate and suffered no consequences.

“It did not affect my grade,” he said. “It did make for an uncomfortable situation.”