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Local News

Anti-gay group claims Waubonsee violated its freedom of speech

Group files lawsuit against college after not being able to pass out fliers

SUGAR GROVE – Two members of an anti-gay group filed a federal lawsuit against Waubonsee Community College, claiming their free speech was violated after they were not allowed to pass out fliers at the college in January.

Wayne Lela and John McCartney, members of the group Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on July 16.

The suit doesn’t specify at which campus the group was trying to distribute fliers.

In the suit, Lela and McCartney are seeking to have Waubonsee Community College’s Use of College Facilities declared discriminatory and that it violates their free speech rights. The suit also seeks unspecified monetary damages.

WCC officials on Tuesday would not comment on the suit, saying it is a matter of pending litigation.

According to the suit, Lela and McCartney contacted WCC administrators in early January seeking approval to pass out fliers titled “The Uncensored Truth About Homosexuality” and “Gay Activism and Freedom of Speech and Religion.” The fliers were sponsored by H.O.M.E.

In a letter dated Jan. 21, David Quillen, WCC’s executive vice president of finance and operations, denied the group’s request.

“As you have been informed previously, Waubonsee Community College is not an open public forum,” Quillen’s letter stated. “The college is an educational institution limited and dedicated to providing education curricula and programs to the students within its district.”

In the letter, Quillen states the college “consistently limits campus activities to events that are not disruptive of the college’s educational mission.”

In the lawsuit, Lela and McCartney claim that WCC’s Use of College Facilities and Services policy is discrimination because it “prohibits all speech which espouse views which WCC deems inconsistent and unfavorable with, or critical of, its philosophy, goals and mission, but not views that are consistent or favorable with its philosophy, goals and mission.”

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