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Professor sues over reprimands for skipping gay-themed shows

A former theater and dance professor at Lamar University in Texas is suing the school, alleging she was treated unfairly after she refused to attend two gay-themed shows for religious reasons.

Linda Ozmun is suing the school, the theater department and the department chair.

Her complaint says that in the fall of 2010 the department sought to bring gay performance artist Tim Miller to campus. She complains that Miller’s “one-man show is about his homosexual lifestyle using obscene language and sexual gestures” but adds, “as a result of complaints from the community, his visit along with his performance was canceled.”

After the cancelation, students organized the Coming Out Collective, another gay-themed show that Ozmun objected to and decided not to attend.

The complaint, reported by Courthouse News Service, says, “Because of her religious beliefs, plaintiff did not attend the show. After the show in December 2010, defendant Judith Sebesta, chair of the department, questioned plaintiff as to why she failed to attend the event.

“Plaintiff explained to Mrs. Sebesta that her religious beliefs prevented her from attending the event.”

In an annual review, Ozmun said she was penalized for not attending the show and her work evaluated as “unacceptable.”

She filed a grievance that she claims went unheard.

Then, Ozmun complains, she was ordered to attend Miller’s rescheduled 2011 show or face disciplinary action.

She alleges, “Because of her religious beliefs, plaintiff failed to attend the performance and as a result she was disciplined for her religious beliefs.

“Defendants have discriminated against plaintiff on the basis of her religious beliefs in violation of the Texas anti-discrimination laws.”

The professor, who has left Lamar, is asking for lost wages, actual damages, punitive damages and reinstatement of her position “with any adverse evaluations expunged from her record.

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