Originally published on Advocate.com October 23 2003 12:00 AM ET
An 18-year-old student has sued a private Christian school, alleging he was expelled three days after he told a teacher he is gay. Jeffrey Woodard said a teacher pulled him out of Bible class at Jupiter [Fla.]
Christian School in August and asked him in confidence if he is gay. When Woodard answered yes, a school official called his mother, Carol Gload, and told her Woodard could not attend an upcoming school retreat unless Gload and her son met with the school to talk about Woodard's sexual orientation, according to the lawsuit. Gload said school officials told them Woodard could receive counseling for his "problem," voluntarily withdraw from the school, or be expelled. "I didn't think Jeffrey needed therapy," Gload said. "So when I explained that he doesn't need help for anything, he knows who he is, they...expelled him." The suit was filed in Palm Beach County circuit court on Tuesday.
School president Richard Grimm said last week that he could not comment on the issue because it involves private information about a former student, but he said the school's policies are based on biblical values. Karen Doering, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights in Tampa, said the school did nothing illegal. "Unfortunately, in the state of Florida, discrimination based on sexual orientation is not specifically prohibited by any law," Doering said. "When it comes to public schools, it is clear the constitution protects youth based on sexual orientation; however, that does not apply to private schools."