A lesbian couple is suing a gym teacher as well as Knox County, Tennessee, alleging their son was forced to attend anti-gay sermons in order to participate in a middle-school basketball program.
The couple’s federal lawsuit filed March 4 claims that Chuck Comer, a physical education and wellness teacher at West Valley Middle School, in Knoxville, used the basketball program to promote “Teens for Christ” meetings.
Students who wanted to play basketball were required to attend 30-minute meetings, twice a week, where Comer would read from and interpret the Bible, including calling LGBT people sinners, according to the couple’s complaint.
“Once Comer lured the students into participating in Defendants’ school-sponsored basketball program, it was revealed that, in order to actually participate in such program, the students would be forced participate in the ‘Teens for Christ’ program,” the lawsuit states. “More specifically, for each instance of participation by students in Defendants’ school-sponsored basketball program (which occurs/occurred on Tuesdays and Thursdays), the students were required to be present early in the morning before school at a lecture hall to listen to Comer read from and interpret the Bible for approximately 30 minutes. … Even more disturbingly, during his preaching sessions, Comer singled out LGBT ‘issues’ and its relations to ‘sin’.'”
The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee, claims Comer’s “Teens for Christ” meetings violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. The couple is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
The lawsuit identifies the couple as “K.K. and K.K.,” who are “the married, interracial, lesbian parents of A.K.”
According to its website, Teens for Christ is a nonprofit organization with 856 chapters worldwide whose mission is “turning teenagers into fully committed followers of Jesus Christ.”
WBIR-TV reports that the Knox County school district didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.