A state judge in Oklahoma has refused to dismiss a lawsuit which alleges that a local school board turned off a public microphone because a man used “a Biblical worldview” to frame his comments.
Back in April, Brice Chaffin spoke at a public school board meeting in Stillwater, Oklahoma, about 65 miles north of Oklahoma City and the home of Oklahoma State University. Though the board had not planned to discuss rules related to bathroom use at schools, many in the audience, including Chaffin, elected to speak about the topic nonetheless.
Many residents wanted to weigh in on the issue since the board had recently updated its anti-discrimination policy to include “gender identity,” which meant that students could use the bathroom which corresponds to their “gender [identities],” rather than their biological sexes.
Chaffin began his comments by arguing for the reality of God and the necessity of accepting Jesus. When board members then asked Chaffin to speak about the bathroom topic at hand, Chaffin hinted at his opposition to “gender identity” as a concept and the related bathroom issue by referencing the Bible.
“So, I talked about physical laws,” Chaffin said. “We have spiritual laws. We also have natural laws. Natural law, for instance, one natural law is that on the day God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female. So, we have males and females.”
Chaffin then began to quote from the first chapter of the New Testament book Romans, a chapter often cited to denounce homosexuality.
At that point, school board members interjected once again and asked Chaffin to stay on topic. When he continued to read from Romans, the board silenced the microphone, and Chaffin’s words became inaudible. Security then removed Chaffin from the meeting.
After the meeting, Chaffin, with the help of attorney Maria Seidler, filed a lawsuit against Stillwater Public Schools, members of the Stillwater school board, and Gay Washington, who was acting superintendent at the time.
Jenni White, president of the group Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment (ROPE), which is also listed as a plaintiff, issued a statement in support of the suit.
“Any member of the taxpaying community has the right to speak at a school board meeting,” White wrote. “If you watch the video, it was clear that Mr. Chaffin was removed because he was predicating his comments on a Biblical worldview. According to the First Amendment our speech is protected from interference by the government and a school board is a governmental entity.”
“I’d just like the school boards to uphold the Constitution as they’re required to pledge upon taking office. Free speech must include religious speech,” White added.
Though the judge dismissed the charges against the school board as a whole, the judge upheld the suit against the district and each individual board member. A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for November. Chaffin and Seidler are not seeking monetary damages from the defendants, but a public apology and remittance for attorney’s fees.
State legislators have since changed state law to restrict students to using the bathroom which is in accords with their biological sex.
The entire meeting can be viewed below. Chaffin’s speech begins at about 1:04:20.