Court refuses to hear anti-gay speech case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of a Boyd County High School student who said a school policy denied him the right to speak out against homosexuality.

The high court's action means an appeals court ruling stands. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati had found that Timothy Morrison was not harmed by the school policy, which had been changed before the issue reached the panel.

Morrison, who has since graduated, said, "I don't know much about it," when asked Monday morning for comment.

He referred a reporter to his mother, who deferred to the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., that represented Morrison.

Joel Oster, an attorney for the group, said he was disappointed in the court's action.

"We're disappointed because Christian students and other students who do not approve of homosexual behavior (are not) second-class citizens simply because of their viewpoint," Oster said.

The case grew out of a long-running controversy that started when a group of students tried to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at the school in 2002.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the school system on the students' behalf. A federal judge issued an injunction that said the group must be allowed to meet.

In a 2004 settlement, the school agreed to treat all groups equally and to conduct annual training sessions on harassment.

Then the school was sued from the other side. Attorneys for Morrison argued that the anti-harassment training and a written harassment/discrimination policy violated his right to express his Christian belief that homosexuality is sinful.

An appeals court agreed with Morrison in 2007, saying he could pursue nominal damages from the school district. But the court reversed itself in 2008, saying that Morrison was not harmed.

By that time, the policy had been modified to allow speech that normally would be protected outside of the school.

It was that decision that the Supreme Court allowed to stand.

Winter Huff, an attorney for the district, said the court's action was good news.

"I'm happy primarily because the school district has really worked hard for its students," Huff said. "I just want to see them stay focused on the business of education, not the business of litigation."

The Gay-Straight Alliance had disbanded by late 2004. Huff said she didn't know whether one was operating at the school now.

She said the district has policies in place "so if there is any student in any circumstance that feels like they're not being treated fairly, there's a policy they can follow."