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Daughter of hate group's preacher settles with school district over ‘Homosexuality is a sin’ shirt

preacher rich penkoski warriors for christ tweet daughters shirt Homosexuality is a sin
youtube @officialstreetpreachers; twitter/X @wfcchurch

Brielle Penkoski claimed victory after receiving a small financial settlement and securing First Amendment training for educators.

A former public high school student in Tennessee sent home for wearing a shirt that read “homosexuality is a sin” settled with the school district for $101 and legal fees.

Brielle Penkoski, then 15 but now a student in college, was sent home from Livingston Academy in 2020 after she refused to remove a shirt that read “homosexuality is a sin,” a phrase that was perceived by some students and staff as offensive and threatening. Penkoski said the phrase was a summation of the Bible verses 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 which declared individuals who practiced same-sex sexual relations would be among those unable to enter heaven. She said the shirt and its phrase were protected speech, but the school disagreed and sent her home.

With the help of her father, self-described street preacher Rich Penkoski of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group Warriors for Christ online ministries, The elder Penkoski filed suit on behalf of his daughter against the Overton County Board of Education in a federal courtroom. The suit was later amended to drop the father as a plaintiff once Brielle reached the age of 18. Penkoski later added school principal Richard Melman and teacher Stephen Henson to the suit, but the charges against the two were dismissed.

Rich Penkoski told Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist he views the recent settlement as a victory for free speech and religious freedom.

“Free speech is free speech,” he told Mehta via telephone.

Penkoski said in a statement to the Christian Post that he and his daughter were not after money, but instead wanted to send a message to the school.

“The other part of this [settlement] is all the teachers, at least from 2020, were told to start taking First Amendment courses, it was one of the things that I insisted on, that I wanted them to take First Amendment training courses,” Penkoski said in a statement to the Christian Post.

Penkoski is no stranger to lawsuits and homophobic controversy. His Warriors for Christ online ministries was identified as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the SPLC in 2022.

Last year, Penkoski was slapped with a five-year restraining order preventing him from any further criticism of the Oklahomans for Equality after he spoke against the LGBTQ+ advocacy group and posted pictures from the same-sex marriage ceremony of Morgan Lawrence-Hayes, the executive board president of the local Bartlesville chapter of Oklahomans for Equality, and Sheena Hayes. He has appealed that case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

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