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Lawsuit alleges Knox County teacher used sports program to speak out against gays, promote religion

An unnamed lesbian couple filed the document earlier this month against Knox County and Chuck Comer.
Credit: WBIR
West Valley Middle School

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A Knox County same-sex couple is suing the county and a physical education teacher, alleging he used the lure of a school-sponsored basketball program to promote "Teens for Christ" teachings.

According to the federal filing by the lesbian couple, Chuck Comer also spoke critically during his "Teens for Christ" talks about LGBTQ matters.

The plaintiffs are identified as K.K. and K.K. The March 4 action names Knox County and Comer as defendants.

They seek compensatory and punitive damages.

The couple said in the lawsuit they have a son - A.K. - who attends West Valley Middle School, where Comer is a P.E. and wellness instructor.

The boy was interested in a school-sponsored basketball program.

"Once Comer lured the students into participating in Defendants’ school-sponsored basketball program, it was revealed that, in order to actually participate in such program, the students would be forced participate in the “Teens for Christ” program," the lawsuit states.

Comer spoke for 30 minutes in the mornings twice a week, reading and interpreting the Bible, according to the lawsuit. He spoke against gay people and said homosexuality was a sin, according to the lawsuit.

"Based on information provided to K.K./K.K. by Assistant Principal Matt Patillo, West Valley Middle School Principal David Claxton and Knox County have been aware of and have acquiesced to Comer leading the school-sponsored basketball program at West Valley Middle School for not less than eight years, while using the same as pretext to recruit students to join “Teens for Christ” program."

Knox County Schools spokeswoman Carly Harrington said the system doesn't comment on pending litigation.

"Also, students are not required to attend Bible study as a prerequisite to playing basketball at West Valley Middle School or any other Knox County school," Harrington said.