An LGBTQ high school student filed a complaint with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) after she said school officials discriminated against people of different sexual orientations and that the North Bend School District did nothing to stop the harassment.
The teenager, who is referred to only as Student 1, claimed that he or she was holding hands with Student 2 in the school parking lot when the building administrator’s child drove by, shouting the derogatory word “f*****.” After the incident, the student said the school failed to investigate.
The complaint went on to state that a third student was punished by reading the Bible. In a separate incident, the complaint added, Student 2 said that a teacher made inflammatory comments about same-sex marriage in class, comparing it to marrying a dog.
After the students complained, the teacher eventually apologized.
But according to ODE, the Bible incident remains unresolved.
According to a letter ODE sent to the superintendent in March, the student who was subject to harassment “had little choice but to comply with the building administrator’s established form of punishment.”
Students accusing the district of failing to address their concerns said that the incident happened because of that student’s sexual orientation.
“There is substantial evidence to support the allegation that the district subjected LGBTQ students to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment,” the letter stated, adding that the “promotion of moral values” in a public school is unconstitutional. In addition, it has a “chilling effect on LGBTQ students’ use of the district’s complaint process.”
This is simple:— ACLU (@ACLU) May 10, 2018
? Public schools can't proselytize students
? Public schools can't force students to read the Bible as punishment
? No school can punish students for being LGBT
? No school can punish LGBT students differently than their peers https://t.co/ZL25i7Rr3Q
In the letter, ODE said that the school district retaliated against a school counselor who helped the LGBTQ students to make the complaint.
As ODE investigates, the district continues to claim that no discrimination ever took place. As such, it has failed to come to an agreement with the student who filed the complaint.
If ODE is proven right and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation took place, the district could be found to have violated both state and federal anti-discrimination laws. In this case, we hope that officials will do the right thing and administrators will be brought to justice for the way they handled LGBTQ students.
If nothing is done even after it’s been proven that there was wrongdoing, other school districts around the country will believe they, too, can behave the same way and not be held accountable.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Brian Snyder