The lawsuit was first filed by members of the Christian Legal Society, who allegedly told pro-LGBTQ demonstrators at the University of Idaho that they would be condemned to hell.
The University of Idaho will pay $90,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by three members of a Christian student organizations who say the school violated their First Amendment rights by issuing no-contact orders against them.
According to The Associated Press, the settlement was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho earlier this week.
The initial complaint was filed by three student members of the Christian Legal Society, as well as the law professor who serves as the organization’s faculty advisor.
Collectively, the plaintiffs alleged that the University of Idaho illegally sought to punish them for expressing constitutionally-protected beliefs.
The Associated Press notes that court documents indicate that the university system agreed to issue no-contact orders after a female student reported that Christian Legal Society members had harassed her by making “negative” remarks about her sexuality.
The same student said that the plaintiffs had also left a note in which they stated they would continue trying to talk to her—and others—about her sexual practices and beliefs.
As part of the settlement, the University of Idaho agreed to rescind the no-contact order.
Tyson Langhofer, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the Christian Legal Society members, said that hopes the settlement will ensure that universities respect students’ beliefs, no matter how contentious they may be.
“Today’s university students will be tomorrow’s leaders, judges and school administrators, so it’s imperative that university officials model the First Amendment freedoms they are supposed to be teaching their students,” Langhofer said in a statement.
However, a University of Idaho spokesperson said that the school considers the settlement a “business decision,” made simply to spare the institution and its students from protracted litigation.
“Litigation costs money and time as well as creates the potential for ongoing trauma to students,” University of Idaho spokesperson Jodi Walker said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. “The university is often disadvantaged in such a case as laws prevent us from sharing the full story. This case, for us, has always been about safe access to education, which is paramount.”
The Christian Legal Society has since praised the ruling as a victory for free speech.
“If we are to repair the current culture of political polarization, conversations among persons with differing viewpoints are essential,” Christian Legal Society attorney Laura Nammo said in a statement reprinted by The College Fix. “University officials’ censorship of such conversations needlessly exacerbates polarization and harms all students’ ability to learn from one another.”
The Associated Press notes that the lawsuit resulted from an interaction during a demonstration on the University of Idaho’s Boise campus.
After an anti-LGBT slur was found written on a wall at the Boise campus, College of Law faculty and students held an event to condemn the slur and express their support for non-heterosexual students.
However, the Christian Legal Society—an organization that requires its members to abide by a strict code that condemns any sex outside the confines of heterosexual marriage as immoral—also attended the event, praying publicly and purportedly telling LGBT students that they would be sent to “the gallows of hell” unless they renounced their sexualities and repented.