College accused of having gay bias

Connecticut Post/January 26, 2006
By Dirk Perrefort

A Milford man is suing the University of Bridgeport for sexual discrimination, claiming in a lawsuit that the school barred him from campus and ordered him to undergo psychiatric care because of his homosexuality.

Paul Lewis, 55, alleges that university officials held a disciplinary hearing last spring and charged him with making other students uncomfortable because of his homosexual behavior, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Milford Superior Court.

After the May 18 hearing, university officials barred Lewis from the campus and ordered him to undergo psychiatric treatment before he could return. Officials also ordered Lewis, who was studying for a doctorate in chiropractic medicine, to reapply to the school if he wanted to continue taking classes, the lawsuit states.

"The University of Bridgeport had the perception that Paul had psychiatric issues and discriminated against him based on that perceived disability," said Lewis' attorney, John Williams of New Haven. "They perceived him as being gay and discriminated against him on that basis."

Lewis, who acknowledges being gay, said Wednesday that he believes the discrimination against him stems in part from the university's alleged ties to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

"Rev. Moon still has a major influence on the University of Bridgeport and his understanding of human sexuality is extremely limited," Lewis said. "There is discrimination against gay people throughout the campus."

The university alleged after the hearing that Lewis needed "expert intervention to help his mental outlook and health" because "students and faculty seem to be disturbed by [his] behavior," according to the lawsuit.

John Daley, a spokesman for the university, said the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities dismissed a complaint on the matter filed by Lewis. He declined further comment.

"It is our policy that we don't speak about pending litigation," he said. "We will make our case in court, not in the newspaper."

Williams claims he withdrew the CHRO complaint so that the matter could be brought before the courts. Officials with the CHRO could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

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