Two Kingsborough Community College students says the school has attacked their right to free speech by trying to sabotage their plans to hold a seminar on the “negative consequences” of gay marriage, and by forcing them to stop handing out anti-abortion leaflets on campus.
In court papers filed March 7, both Joseph Hayon — who is president of the Brooklyn Tea Party and the chairman of Kingsborough’s Republican Club — and Shmuel Mayteles, say school officials threatened to kick them off campus if they didn’t stop handing out anti-abortion pamphlets in 2009, and then rescheduled a forum on gay marriage, moving it to a smaller location.
“Students shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” said Hayon’s lawyer, Travis Barham. “In this case, campus security officers and several administrators tried to stop a student from passing out pro-life fliers even though no campus policy prohibited him from doing so. Kingsborough simply cannot silence speech because some people find it offensive.”
Officials eventually allowed the students to leave the flyers on a table on campus, but wouldn’t let them distribute them by hand.
The suit also alleges that school officials tried to interfere with the content of the gay marriage forum by demanding a faculty member “moderate” the event.
Hayon, 33, who unsuccessfully ran for State Assembly in 2010, says that officials assigned a faculty moderator, Professor Christopher Chapman, to counter the anti-gay marriage views professed at the forum. Both Hayon and Mayteles declined to comment on the suit.
But Kingsborough lawyer Thaddeus Hackworth denied the school has done anything wrong.
“The college supports the rights of individual students, faculty, staff and student organizations to engage in expressive activities,” he said.
Shortly after we went to press, Hayon and his Republican Club got to host another event on the campus dubbed “License to Kill, The Abortion Scourge,” after reaching an agreement with the college on a suitable location, and allowing a faculty advisor to be present, according to Hackworth.
When running for office, Hayon promoted himself as a “pro-family” candidate, promising to strike down bills that would legalize late-term abortion and order private schools to teach same-sex marriage as “moral,” according to his website, josephhayon.com.
He also pledged to oppose then-Gov. Patterson’s directive to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of the state.