Church Elder Says He Was Banned From University for ‘Unwelcome’ Views

Todd Schmidt claims he faced discrimination, not a transgender student

Todd Schmidt, who was banned from the University of Wyoming's student union last December, continues to seek a preliminary injunction that would restore his table privileges. (Credit: Facebook/Todd Schmidt)

By Ellen Fike

Special to the Wyoming Truth

A church elder claimed in a new court filing that he was banned from the University of Wyoming’s student union last year for his “unwelcome” views, rather than harassment or discrimination as stated by campus officials.

Todd Schmidt sent a reply in support of his earlier request that U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal grant him a preliminary injunction against UW President Ed Seidel and Dean of Students Ryan O’Neil, which would allow him to resume table privileges at the campus student union.

“UW punishes Schmidt for expressing disfavored (or unwelcomed) views, most prominent being his table sign stating Artemis Langford is a male, taking a restrictive action on expression that violates Schmidt’s right to free speech,” Schmidt’s attorneys, Nathan W. Kellum of Memphis, Tennessee and Douglas J. Mason of Pinedale wrote in their July 31 court filing. “Because this so-called ‘corrective action’ has little relation to UW’s stated policies, the table ban also violates his right to due process.”

Schmidt was banned from the student union in December after he posted a sign on his table that read “God created man and woman and Artemis Langford is a man.”

Langford, a transgender UW student and employee at the student union, has gained national attention over the last year due to her membership in the Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG) sorority. Six current and former KKG members have since filed a lawsuit against the sorority and Langford for allegedly breaking its bylaws and allowing the transgender woman to join.

On July 24, Seidel and O’Neil’s attorneys asked the judge to block the injunction and partially dismiss the suit against O’Neil, arguing the dean of students has immunity as a government official.

Schmidt claimed O’Neil was not entitled to qualified immunity because she was the person who censored his message and enforced his table ban. By carrying out these “egregious” actions, O’Neil “knew or should have known” she was violating Schmidt’s constitutional rights, his attorneys wrote.

“[Schmidt] wants to share his viewpoint on a public issue in a public place but O’Neil disallows his speech due to university disagreement with his opinion,” Schmidt’s attorneys claimed in the recent filing. “O’Neil should know viewpoint discrimination is unconstitutional…but she committed this discrimination against Schmidt anyway, with the censorship and table ban.”

Schmidt’s attorneys also argued that he is entitled to undefined nominal damages from O’Neil in her individual capacity. According the court filing, Schmidt is experiencing “two-fold irreparable harm” due to the ban, while no harm at all would be caused to UW officials should his ban be rescinded.

“UW’s one-year suspension contemplates an eventual return. UW officials fail to explain how Schmidt’s presence would be any more unsafe this fall than it would next year after the suspension is over,” his attorneys wrote.

It was not clear when Freudenthal may rule on Schmidt’s injunction request.

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