Schools, courts and other civil departments remain in limbo as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps everyone in the country six feet apart. When these gears of government get grinding once again, an interesting lawsuit in Knox County, Tenn., will be waiting.
A married lesbian couple is suing the county and physical education teacher Chuck Comer for allegedly using a school-sanctioned sports team to spread and promote anti-LGBTQ beliefs via religious teachings.
The suit, filed last month, alleges that the unnamed women’s son was forced to attend mandatory “Teens For Christ” meetings led by Comer, in order to participate in West Valley Middle School’s basketball program, which Comer also leads.
“Teens For Christ” is a non-profit organization that defines its mission as “turning teenagers into fully committed followers of Jesus Christ.” Unlike the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ statement of faith, “Teens For Christ” doesn’t explicitly discriminate against gays or same-sex marriage in its “Core Values,” but it also says the Bible is to be believed to be “infallible” and “authoritative,” there’s not much chance they’re going to welcome the lesbian plaintiffs.
According to the complaint, Comer espounged anti-LGBTQ beliefs at the twice weekly 30-minute meetings, including labeling homosexuality a sin. The couple further claims that the county and West Valley Middle School principal David Claxton were aware of Comer’s actions for years based on information from West Valley Middle School assistant principal Matt Patillo.
“West Valley Middle School Principal David Claxton and Knox County have been aware of and have acquiesced to Comer, leading the school-sponsored basketball program at West Valley Middle School for not less than eight years, while using the same as pretext to recruit students to join ‘Teens for Christ’ program.”
The couple is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Speaking to WBIR, Knox County Schools spokesperson Carly Harrington stated “students are not required to attend Bible study as a prerequisite to playing basketball at West Valley Middle School or any other Knox County school.”
We’ve reached out to Comer and “Teens for Christ” for comment, and given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we do not expect any new developments any time soon. But when they occur, we’ll update you.
You can read the full lawsuit filed by the couple here.