A lawsuit has been filed alleging that a second grader at Forest Park Elementary School in Fort Wayne, Indiana was punished by a teacher for his religious beliefs. The seven-year-old, identified only as “A.B.” in the document, responded to a question from a classmate, regarding his lack of church attendance, that he did not believe in God.
This resulted in his being interrogated by his teacher, Michelle Meyer, on his beliefs (as to whether he went to church, whether his family went to church, and whether his mother knew how he felt about God, none of which are the teacher’s business to know) and forced to sit alone at lunch, in silence, for three days. Meyer justified this by claiming that A.B. has “offended” the other students.
A.B. and the inquiring student (who had been upset by A.B.’s lack of faith) were also sent to another adult employed at Forest Park Elementary School, who told the latter to be glad that she had faith, and to not listen to A.B.’s “bad ideas.”
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The lawsuit claims that Meyer's actions were a violation of the child’s First Amendment rights, and that they caused great distress to A.B. The young boy was ostracized by peers following the teacher’s example long after the end of the three-day “banishment.” Months later, there are still some classmates who refuse to talk to A.B.
Meyer's lack of religious tolerance is especially stark in comparison to A.B. himself. In the original incident, which took place around February 23rd, A.B. told his classmate that, although he did not himself believe in God, it was fine that his classmate did. He was not attempting to impose his atheism upon any of the other children, as the teacher was trying to shame A.B. into religiosity.
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