UPDATE: Texas school district removes suspension from record of gay student who tore pages from Bible

Just yesterday, Hardy Haberman wrote in a column for Lone Star Q about the case of gay teen Isaiah Smith (above), who was suspended by Birdville High School in North Richland Hills in October for tearing pages from a Bible. Smith reportedly tore out pages from Leviticus that contain passages frequently used to condemn homosexuality, and he said he did so in response to anti-gay bullying.

After Smith was suspended for three days, the American Humanist Association sent a formal complaint to the district, alleging Smith’s First Amendment rights had been violated.

Five weeks later, the AHA announced today that in response to its complaint, Birdville ISD has agreed to remove the suspension from Smith’s record. The AHA also said Birdville administrators agreed to let Smith continue to carry his torn Bible.

“Smith’s free speech rights were violated, and we’re pleased to see his record cleared of any discipline he didn’t deserve,” said Appignani Humanist Center attorney Monica Miller. “We appreciate the willingness of school administrators to resolve this issue quickly.”

Below is the AHA’s full press release.

h/t: Unfair Park

— John Wright

Gay High School Student Suspended for Ripped Bible Has Record Cleared

(Washington, DC, Dec. 5, 2013) — A suspension on the record of a Texas high school student who was disciplined for ripping his own Bible in class has been removed following the involvement of the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. The settlement also includes explicit permission for Isaiah Smith, the student at Birdville High School in North Richland Hills, TX, to continue carrying his ripped Bible in school.

Smith, an African-American gay student at the school, states he was bullied by other students who repeatedly told him that “being gay is a sin” and “gays go to hell.” In protest, Smith tore pages of Leviticus from a personal copy of the Bible and was sent to the assistant principal’s office as a result. Smith reported the bullying and was asked to not tear any more pages from his Bible. Several days later, however, administrators suspended Smith for merely carrying the ripped Bible to school.

“Smith’s free speech rights were violated, and we’re pleased to see his record cleared of any discipline he didn’t deserve,” said Appignani Humanist Center attorney Monica Miller. “We appreciate the willingness of school administrators to resolve this issue quickly.”

Negotiations began after a letter was sent on Oct. 31, 2013 from the Appignani Humanist Legal Center to the Birdville Independent School District outlining the free speech and religious freedom constitutional violations that had occurred. Final discussions with school administrators ended yesterday.

 

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