Earlier this month, Atheist Republic reported about LGBTQ students from the North Bend School District who were being forced to read Bible passages as a sort of punishment. Also, there were allegations that LGBTQ students were discriminated against after reporting sexual harassment.
Hearing was scheduled for May 24 in North Bend with the an Oregon Department of Education (ODE) hearings officer to decide if the North Bend School District was in compliance with both state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
According to ACLU of Oregon, LGBTQ students at the rural school on the Oregon coast have been harassed, threatened, bullied, and assaulted just for being who they are. What is worse is that when these students turned to the adults in charge to protect them, the school administrators, teachers, and staff ignored their pleas for help. Instead they told one of our clients she was going to hell for being gay, subjected LGBTQ students to harsher discipline than their straight peers, and equated homosexuality with bestiality.
Liv Funk and Hailey Smith were brave enough to share their stories about suffering anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination from classmates and administration. “The discrimination wasn’t an isolated incident and it didn’t just come from students. When I told the principal that my civics teacher called me out in front of the whole class and said same-sex marriage was ‘pretty much the same thing’ as marrying a dog, the principal told me ‘everybody has the right to their own opinion.’ The next day, the teacher apologized, but as I walked away, he said ‘don’t go marrying your dog,’” Smith said.
Funk said that she was once attacked by two classmates outside the school. The boys allegedly yelled things like "I fucking hate homos" at Funk before hitting her twice with a skateboard. When she tried to report the incident, Funk says Griggs, the resource officer told her, "being gay was a choice, and it was against his religion." "He said he had homosexual friends," she adds, "but because I was an open homosexual, I was going to hell."
The student-run legal clinic at the Willamette University College of Law first took on the girls' case. Professor Warren Binford says she then went to the ACLU for help after discovering it to be "one of the worst cases of discrimination at a school that she had ever seen in Oregon." Now, those allegations have been confirmed and North Bend High School principal Bill Lucero and school resource officer Jason Griggs are being removed from their jobs. School district has reached settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.
Matt dos Santos, legal director for the ACLU of Oregon, says today’s settlement “sends a clear message to everyone at the district: If you break the law by discriminating against LGBTQ students or engaging in religious proselytization at school, there are serious consequences.”
Discrimination should always be punished because every student deserves to have a safe and welcoming school, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, race or ethnicity, disability, or religious beliefs. That’s why Bill Lucero and Jason Griggs have rightfully been punished and they have timed to read their Bible passages in peace.
Photo Credits: Patheos