Reports: Oregon School District Punished Gay Student... with Forced Bible Study

(EDGE) At least one gay students has reportedly been punished by a school district in Oregon by being compelled to read the Bible, Newsweek reported. The state's Department of Education is now investigating, Newsweek said.

Mark Meyer of the Oregon Department of Education affirmed in a report that "discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred," the Newsweek article said, going on to report that the publication had also received a statement from the district itself that said it had received "two complaints from students alleging they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation."

A local publication, The World, also reported on still another complaint - a claim that despite harassment of LGBTQ students, the district did nothing to protect the youths.

The World reported on the allegations in depth, referring to the several young people who complained as Student 1, Student 2, and Student 3, and reporting that the Oregon Department of Education acknowledged 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," as well as making note of contradictory claims by personnel.

"Even though the district denies this allegation" of a Student 3 being forced to read the Bible as a form of discipline, "...ODE stated in [a] March 6 letter [sent to the district superintendent, Bill Yester] that the building administrator contradicted that claim. In fact, he acknowledged in an interview with ODE that he required students to read the Bible for punishment."

The World said that the supervisor of the administrator verified his account.

The allegations involve more than just claims of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, though. "At issue is the question of whether the Bible readings violated the students' First Amendment rights, violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and crossing the line separating church and state," noted in a report.

"The North Bend School District in a release said the Bible reading was a one-time thing," added.

The other two youths referenced - Students 1 and 2 - reported anti-gay sexual harassment on school grounds. The two "were holding hands in the school parking lot," The World reported, again referencing the March 6 letter, when another student "'drove very close to them' and yelled 'faggot.'"

"On a separate occasion, Student 2 also reported that a teacher in class equated same-sex marriage to marrying a dog," The World added.

The youths were not the only alleged victims. A counselor claims that he suffered retaliatory action when he stood up for the students.

A hearing is scheduled for May 24 to look into the allegations.

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