San Francisco – The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Fresno City College today demanding that the school ensure that all its health science classes teach unbiased and medically accurate information. According to students at the college, lectures by Professor Dr. Bradley Lopez, who teaches an introductory health class, often present religiously-based and anti-gay views as "science" or "fact."
"I feel very let down by my school," said Jacqui Mahaffey, a 24-year-old student who took Professor Lopez's class. "I signed up for health science because I was interested in the subject, but what I got was hateful lecturing based on Professor Lopez's personal beliefs. I am in school to learn, not to be indoctrinated with one professor's religious views and anti-gay beliefs."
The ACLU letter includes several examples of Professor Lopez teaching sectarian views and personal bias as "fact." In recent lectures, Professor Lopez:
Presented a slide listing "homosexual facts," including that homosexuality is a "biological misapplication of human sexuality" and said that the "recommended treatment" is "psychological counseling" or "hormone supplements."
Presented LGBT people as a burden on and/or threat to society, claiming, for example, that anything but a heterosexual union provides a "one-sided foundation for raising children."
Presented bible passages as "empirical" evidence that life begins at conception in support of his assertion that abortion is murder and "the leading cause of death in this country" (because there are over a million abortions a year).
Followed a slide on climate change in a presentation on "environmental health" with a slide containing a Biblical quote about the world ending in fire, and said "that is the real global warming we should be worried about."
Repeatedly referenced the Bible and used it as a teaching tool, for example assigning as homework a question as to Jesus' genetic makeup.
"The college class room of a state school should be a welcoming environment for all students, and courses, especially health courses, should be based on objective and medically accurate information, not religiously-based bias," said Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. "While Professor Lopez is free to talk about his religious beliefs outside of the classroom, Fresno City College has an obligation to protect its students from religious indoctrination and anti-gay bias presented as 'science' or 'fact.' Professor Lopez's health class fails students in both regards."
The letter sent by the ACLU charges that because the classes are being taught at a publicly funded college, Professor Lopez's lectures violate federal and state constitutional protections guaranteeing the separation of church and state. To satisfy its legal obligation to combat anti-gay bias, the letter also urges the school to mandate accurate and unbiased health instruction.
The ACLU's letter, which is available here, gives the college until February 15 to explain how it intends to address the problem.