TN students say assignment forced them to support gay rights
Columbia State Community College professor Linda Brunton
Sign on Brunton's office door
COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) -
Some students at a Maury County college claim a psychology professor told them it's her job "to educate the ignorant and uneducated elements of society" and to correct "hateful and closed-minded views" concerning homosexuality.
The Columbia State Community College students say professor Dr. Linda Brunton gave them an assignment where they had to say they supported gay rights even if they didn't.
Word then quickly spread across campus.
"When you try to force these students to take the same side as you on a subject such as homosexually, that's a sensitive subject to some people," said Columbia State student Andrew Grayson.
Several students contacted the Alliance Defending Freedom, claiming the professor instructed the class to wear Rainbow Coalition ribbons for a day, and if someone asked why they were wearing it, they were to say they were supporting the homosexual community and its political agenda.
After that, the students were to write a paper describing how they faced discrimination because of their support of gay rights. The students said if they fail to complete the assignment, they wouldn't receive class credit.
"I think it's important to discuss both sides of the issue when you taking a class and learning about subjects," said Columbia State student Trey Yadon.
The group sent a four-page letter to Columbia State President Dr. Janet Smith, stating the students' First Amendment rights to free speech were violated and their opinions or beliefs were brushed off by the professor.
The letter also states the professor wanted students to see that those who support the traditional definition of marriage are just "uneducated bigots" who "attack homosexuals with hate."
"I think if you are trying to push your views on students, that's a little bit much. It's up to you make your own decision," Yadon said.
The professor is not teaching classes during the current summer term, but her support of gay rights is openly displayed on her office door.
In a statement regarding the allegations, school officials said:
"When the allegations were brought to the attention of college officials, Columbia State Community College began an investigation, which is currently ongoing and congruent with board policy and applicable laws."
Collegevue Church of Christ sits across the street from campus and has changed its marquee sign condemning the professor's alleged actions.
"We are going to base our opinion upon what we believe the word of God teaches. We believe it condemns homosexuality, and therefore we have to take that moral stance," said the Rev. Gregg Gwin.
The students have also asked the school's president to take immediate action by ordering the professor to apologize to any students who feel their rights were violated. And they want the professor to be disciplined.
Channel 4 News tried to contact Brunton several times for comment, but our efforts were unsuccessful.