Judge Rules University Can Fire Employee for Anti-Gay Article

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday February 9, 2012

A former human resources employee at the University of Toledo filed a lawsuit against the college because she was fired for writing an anti-gay article that criticized gay rights. A federal court judge, however, threw out her case, the Toledo Blade reported.

In late 2008, Crystal Dixon filed a complaint against the school alleging that it violated her First Amendment and 14th Amendment rights but U.S. District Judge David Katz dismissed and closed her case.

"The balance of [Dixon's] interest in making a comment of public concern is clearly outweighed by the University's interest as her employer in carrying out its own objectives," the judge wrote in an opinion. "Therefore, [Dixon] has failed to establish that her speech was protected. [Dixon] also claims that she was fired for violating an impermissibly vague speech policy. However, the damage she did to her ability to perform her job and to the University provide ample justification for her termination."

In May 2008, Dixon was fired by the college due to its concern about an article she wrote for the Toledo Free Press that said gays and lesbians have no claim to the civil rights movement, EDGE reported. Dixon wrote in the column, "Gay Rights and Wrongs: Another Perspective," that she took "great umbrage" that people "choosing the homosexual lifestyle" could be seen as "civil rights victims."

"I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman," she wrote. "I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended."

"Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle."

Dixon claimed that she was let go for her "private political speech" and that other members of the university had written for local publications but were not punished.

"The University of Toledo is committed to providing a safe, welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors, regardless of race, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability," the University of Toledo's president, Dr. Lloyd Jacobs said in a statement.

A New Jersey high school was involved in a similar incident when school board officials from the Union Township, N.J., school district recently started the firing process against high school English teacher Viki Knox for allegedly posting anti-gay comments on Facebook, EDGElink|www.edgeonthenet.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=national&sc2=news&sc3=&id=128855|EDGE>.

"Every student, no matter what race, creed color or sexual orientation ought to be able to come to school and feel comfortable in a learning environment that's welcoming and nurturing," Ray Perkins, the school board president, said. Knox's comments compared gays to cancer and said that homosexuality is a "perverted sin."

"Why parade your unnatural immoral behaviors before the rest of us?" Knox allegedly wrote. "I DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE ANYTHING OTHERS WISH TO DO. I DO HAVE TO LOVE AND SPEAK AND DO WHAT'S RIGHT!"

In late December the school board officially filed tenure charges against Knox.

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