Metro Weekly

Oregon school district allegedly forced LGBTQ student to read Bible

The district is now being accused of discrimination following an official investigation

Photo: MyfanwyX / Flickr

An Oregon school district is facing allegations of LGBTQ discrimination, including punishing an LGBTQ student by forcing them to read Bible passages.

An investigation of the North Bend School District was conducted by the Oregon Department of Education after students reported harassment. The ODE subsequently found that an administrator had forced an LGBTQ student to read Christian scripture.

The district originally denied the claim, but the administrator and his supervisor confirmed the punishment during the investigation.

Mark Mayer, the Complaint and Appeals Coordinator for ODE, said in a March 6th letter that the investigation found that “discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred.”

“[The student] had little choice but to comply with the building administrator’s established form of punishment,” Mayer said, adding that there was “substantial evidence to support the allegation that the district subjected LGBTQ students to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment.”

The district said in a statement to Newsweek that despite there being two complaints of LGBTQ discrimination, the Bible reading was a single occurrence.

They also said the district “works hard every day to make sure all students feel respected and safe at school and will continue these efforts regardless of the outcome of this hearing.”

A 30-day period was enacted with Mayer’s letter that required the student and district to work out a settlement over the charges, but, even after an extension was granted, the settlement didn’t take place, according to The Oregonian.

Now the case will go to court, where investigators will have to decide whether or not the Bible readings violated the students’ First Amendment rights as well as the establishment clause of the Constitution.

ACLU said in a tweet that they are a part of the student’s case, calling their treatment “blatantly unconstitutional.”

If the discrimination lawsuit is ruled in favor of the student, the district may have to pay fines, be banned from interschool activities, and even lose funding.

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