Last week, the University of Idaho settled a free speech lawsuit with three Christian students who claimed the school violated their right to free speech. The school agreed to pay the students $90,000.
The students, Peter Perlot, Mark Miller and Ryan Alexander of the university's chapter of the Christian Legal Society, sued the school in April after the university's Office of Civil Rights & Investigations issued the students and CLS faculty advisor Professor Richard Seamon "no-contact orders" for sharing their views on biblical marriage and sexual ethics during an LGBT event on campus.
At the time, a law student asked the Christian students about their views on biblical marriage and sexuality. Shortly after, Perlot left the student a handwritten note expressing interest in continued dialogue.
Several days later, however, the law student and several others denounced the CLS's Christian beliefs during a panel with the American Bar Association. Furthermore, university officials ordered the Christian students not to have further conversations with the law student.
"The CLS members did not receive notice that anyone had complained about them and were not given an opportunity to review the allegations against them or defend themselves," the lawsuit stated. "Instead of allowing the students to disagree civilly and respectfully with one another and to discuss these important issues, the university chose instead to censor Plaintiffs."
Representing the students was the nonprofit legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.
"Today's university students will be tomorrow's leaders, judges, and school administrators, so it's imperative that university officials model the First Amendment freedoms they are supposed to be teaching their students," ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said in a statement.
"We're pleased to settle this case favorably on behalf of Peter, Mark, Ryan, and Professor Seamon, and we hope that it will encourage all public universities across the country to support the constitutionally protected freedom of students and professors to share their deeply held beliefs on campus."
Lauro Nammo, a CLS attorney, stressed that conversations between people with different viewpoints are "essential" in repairing "the current culture of political polarization."
"University officials' censorship of such conversations needlessly exacerbates polarization and harms all students' ability to learn from one another," she added.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.