U.S. Supreme Court Declines Counselor’s Appeal Over Advice Book

By Mark Walsh — May 19, 2014 1 min read
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the appeal of an Illinois guidance counselor who was fired over his self-publication of a purported relationship-advice book for women that contained sexually explicit passages.

Meanwhile, the justices took no action on a closely watched appeal involving a public school graduation held at a large evangelical church. The court will presumably consider the appeal in Elmbrook School District v. Doe (Case No. 12-755) at its next private conference later this week.

The advice-book case concerns Bryan Craig, who was a tenured guidance counselor and girls’ basketball coach at Rich Central High School in the Chicago suburb of Olympia Fields. In 2012, Craig self-published a book titled It’s Her Fault, a 60-page collection of relationship advice aimed at women, which Craig said was inspired by his years of counseling and interaction with women, including from his school counseling job, according to court papers.

Among other advice, the book has sexually explicit passages advising women on how they could use “sex appeal” to gain power in their relationships with men, court papers say. The book encourages women to engage in “a certain level of promiscuity before marriage,” but not to “go hoeing[sic] around the world.”

Craig references his employment as a school counselor throughout the book, writing that his dealings with females in his school office, in counseling sessions, and in coaching the girls’ basketball teams helped inform his views.

Administrators in Rich Township High School District 227 recommended him for discharge on grounds that the book had caused disruption in the community, that it created a hostile educational environment, and that Craig failed to present himself as a positive role model. The school board dismissed Craig in 2012.

He sued on First Amendment grounds, but lost in two lower courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, ruled last year that while the book dealt with a topic that was protected by the free-speech clause, the district was justified in dismissing him because female students may not be comfortable seeking guidance from him considering his tendency to objectify women.

The counselor appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. But the justices on May 19 declined without comment to hear the appeal in Craig v. Rich Township High School District (Case No. 13-1084).

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.