Theater Instructor Sues University For Making Her Attend Gay Theater Shows

Though the “theater gay” is a well-known stereotype, it seems that a Christian instructor at a Texas university isn’t so okay with gay theater.

According to the Southeast Texas Record, Linda Ozmun has filed suit against Lamar University and Judith Sebesta, chair of the Department of Theater and Dance.

Says the Record:

According to the lawsuit, Ozmun is a faculty member of the theater department. In 2010, the department sought to bring in Tim Miller, an artist who advocates for homosexual marriage, to perform a show centered on homosexuality. However, his show was cancelled when the community complained.

In response to the cancellation, several students organized a show called “Coming Out Collective,” which Ozmun refused to attend.

When Ozmun received her annual review in March 2011, Sebesta included her failure to attend the event as part of her evaluation and gave her a grade of “unacceptable,” the suit states.

She filed a grievance, which was returned and noted “unheard,” the suit states.

In the fall 2011 semester, Lamar brought Miller back to perform his show “Glory Box” and conduct a workshop. According to her suit, Ozmun asked to be excused from attending the show but was threatened with disciplinary action if she failed to attend.

Now, while it is delicious to think about the irony of a teacher in such a typically gay department being so unsettled by the gays, Queerty believes that teachers have the right to be as prudish as their students, should they choose to be. But it is kind of annoying when an academic type, who’s supposed to be open-minded, refuses to go see a show like Miller’s?

Miller already gets enough flack from conservatives and government bureaucrats—shouldn’t fellow theater academics have his back?

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  • PTBoat

    She teaches theater. She no more has a right to refuse to see a play, based upon her personal moral beliefs, than she would have a right, as a student, to refuse to read a novel. The university is not asking her to view pornography, nor is it asking her to participate in homosexual activities. As an academic, it is her job to understand her field and to educate herself in it in order to present a thorough and professional critique. To do otherwise would be to teach her students that it is okay to remain in ignorance even in ones chosen field of study.

  • Bipolar Bear

    As above. In every job I’ve ever had, your contract clearly states a number of duties you’re expected to perform in return for your salary. You can’t just pick and choose to opt out of them.

  • SFHarry

    The teacher is being asked to stay updated on what is current in theater not to eat pussy. Of course she should be disciplined. Just as a gay person in a religious studies curriculum would have to read offensive religious texts.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Bipolar Bear:

    Plus 100%

    Lamar is also a public university, so no claim that a private college/university can conduct its policies in their own determination.

    Knowledge is POWER; failing to educate oneself in the breadth of their field of study diminishes the ability to be a free thinker and to give guidance to their students.

  • James-Clifton

    Perhaps she would be happier teaching at a school where the only productions are “Godspell,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and, just to be daring and avant-garde, “The Sound of Music” …

  • orpheus_lost

    This is very simple but somehow Evan Mulvihill missed the mark. Ms. Ozmun is a director of theater. It is her job, and her responsibility, to represent ALL of her students, not just those who happen to hold her narrow opinions. If she refuses to do her job then steps need to be taken to either correct her behavior or to create a situation in which a new director is needed.

    Freedom of speech is important but Ms. Ozmun isn’t expressing her beliefs, she’s trying to keep others from expressing theirs. That is the antithesis of her job.

  • Shauna

    LOL people really will sue for anything in the states. what a waste of time and money

  • Kyle

    I love the responses. Certainly if this woman was an anti-Semite and she refused to see Fiddler on the Roof, nobody would say, “It’s her moral beliefs!” I love the step n’ fetch it gay men though. I love them. I would love to meet them and hang out.

  • joe feliciano

    she can be as prudish as she wishes, but it’s part of a theatre professor’s JOB TO SEE student performances. she then has every right to say what didn’t work for her — esthetically — not personally, but esthetically. that’s what she’s getting paid for.

  • Ogre Magi

    She sounds like a typical Christian! Oh, how I hate them!

  • Bailey

    Jesus saves… but only on double coupon day.

  • Hephaestion

    America’s idiotic Christians are having a nationwide Pity Party, perpetually claiming to be a persecuted religious minority when they are asked to not discriminate against gays. They are truly the stupidest humans walking this planet.

  • MKisNE

    Well she probably shouldn’t have been disciplined.. But hopefully she doesn’t turn into a professional, animus spewing victim, because that would be obnoxious for her gay students and probably a lot of straight ones too. Guess we’ll see.

  • SFHarry

    Why shouldn’t she be disciplined? Does homophobia not rise to the level of what you would discipline. What if she wouldn’t see a play with Black characters or Jewish characters or themes, does that rise to the proper level for discipline?

  • Max

    This incident isn’t free speech, and it’s getting tiresome for people to imply that certain forms of “speech” or “activism”–be they the making of or the recusal from other incidents of–are protected and thus above contract law. If I decide to take a job as a gay porn performer, can I then refuse to engage in gay porn because it violates my beliefs? Certain jobs come with certain responsibilities–the first amendment doesn’t promise we won’t be fired for our beliefs–that’s a choice many of us make every day–it merely promises that the government won’t use militant coercion to force us to subscribe to them.

  • Kyle

    @SFHarry: She would be on ABC World News, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, Good Morning America, etc. etc. etc. People would go insane over her. But, because this deals with homosexuals, it’s her right. It’s her “Freedom of Speech”-(which is wrong).

  • Richard Ford

    Here’s the deal. Ms. Ozmun refuses to participate in these gay-themed activities so as not to betray her “moral principles.” Taking part would apparently imply some sort of approval on her part. Sort of like the pharmacist who refuses to dispense birth control or morning after pills. Sort of.
    Here, if Ozmun’s principles are as principled as she thinks they are, what she should do is attend the gay acting workshop and speak up during it. No ranting, no raving, just express a viewpoint. That would at least be courageous of her, but asking to be excused from such an event, slithering off into the grass–what kind of protest is that?
    This is a university setting, where intellectual excellence and honesty are prized, and Ozmun is a TEACHER, responsible for educating her STUDENTS. She is not entitled to simply disengage from a topic that makes her unmentionables pucker.
    Sort of like the history teacher who hates Hitler so much she cuts that chapter out of the textbook and won’t discuss it in class. Sort of like “Don’t say gay” at the college level. Sort of.

  • arbiter

    Sounds like she needs to find a different job (or just wake up to reality). If you can’t perform the duties required to hold a certain occupation, you should be fired. She could have attended any of these performances, and simply noted her objections on her own time, under the context of her beliefs if need be. You don’t need to agree, I’m guessing, to fulfill the required attendance mandate. Sounds like an exercise in stupidity to me.

  • Damon

    She was a tenure track professor that HAD to attend and critique a specified MINIMUM number of performances, which she did not fulfill. Her reason was to not attend was that the performance used vulgar language, which the university said was not a valid reason.

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