At North Bend High School, located in rural Oregon, gay and lesbian students students were recently harassed with homophobic slurs. Shortly following, a transgender student had food thrown at them in the cafeteria. When punished — the school’s principle assignment a specific punishment for these LGBT+ students: reading from the Bible.
School officials initially denied that students were required to read the Bible as punishment; however later investigators were told, allegations were true and that the punishment was not to promote a religion but rather “to assist students in understanding the effects of certain behaviors.” North Bend’s superintendent, Bill Yester, said the Bible was used as punishment only once.
In a recent investigative report, students stated that the North Bend School District has dealt with years of harassment and bigotry from not only other students, but school employees as well. There is a strong religious presence that has silenced many of them from speaking out.
LGBT students were pelted with food, called anti-gay slurs and required to read the Bible as punishment in one Oregon high school. And school officials did not stop it, a report says. https://t.co/e6oGRFCcr6
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 16, 2018
The two reports, completed in March but only made public this month found that top officials in North Bend had for at least the last two school years — created very hostile conditions for gay and lesbian students, refused to intervene after a claim of sexual harassment and retaliated against a school counselor, who helped with the state investigation. “The department finds that discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred,” the investigator wrote.
In the state reports, the district denied that students had been mistreated and when the cases of harassment had been reported, they said matters had been resolved “promptly and appropriately.”
I’ve come to realize more and more how little public conversation we ever have about the many ways that latent homophobia manifests. And how easily folks just brush over and excuse homophobia without even much consideration.
— deray (@deray) May 16, 2018
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon has agreed to represent the students next week.
“It’s incredibly troubling that there is a school in Oregon that thinks it’s O.K. to discipline students using forced readings of the Bible,” Mat dos Santos, the chapter’s legal director, said in an interview. “It’s equally troubling that there are students who feel unsafe going to school because they identify as L.G.B.T.Q.”
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