A school in rural Oregon has come under intense criticism after it reportedly forced an LGBT+ student to read the Bible because of their sexuality.
The actions of the school, which resides in The North Bend School District, was first reported by The Coos Bay World and then later picked up by The Oregonian.
The accusations came from a letter issued in March to Bill Yester, the school superintendent for the district, which claimed that 'discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation' had occurred.
The document says that the student, who is only referred to as Student 3, was forced to read the Bible as a form of punishment while staff supervised them.
It is not clear whether they were forced to read the Bible because of their sexuality but both Student 3 and another LGBT+ person known as Student 1 believe that was the case.
However, the reports indicate that the Oregon Department of Education confirmed that students had been forced to read the Bible in the past as a punishment.
Yet the letter issued to Bill Yester said the evidence of discrimination against LGBT+ students was 'substantial.'
Student 3 had little choice but to comply with the building administrator’s established form of punishment.
There is substantial evidence to support the allegation that the district subjected LGBT+ students to separate or different rules of behaviour, sanctions, or other treatment.
If this is found to be true then it would be in violation of the American First Amendment, which states that schools cannot use the Bible as a source of authority.
The North Bend School District has since released a statement claiming that the Bible reading was the only time that this form of punishment had ever been enacted.
The Oregonian also reports that the school had discriminated against another LGBT+ student who had reported sexual harassment.
The Education Department claims that district failed to investigate when the child of the building administrator yelled 'faggot' as two students held hands.
A counsellor who was advocating for LGBT+ students and equality had faced retaliation from the district.
The counsellor in question told Coos Bay World:
These students have required quite a bit of support, but luckily they have some good family and friends.
A lot of students who have been involved didn’t come forward or remained anonymous so it’s two main students who spearheaded the appeal.
They had the courage to do this.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already confirmed that they are looking into the case.
This is blatantly unconstitutional and @ACLU_OR is already on the case. https://t.co/ZL25i7Rr3Q
A hearing will now take place on 24 May to determine whether the officials at the school had complied with anti-discrimination laws.
If they are found to have defied the laws of the state, a series of daily fines could be issued against the school district, a loss of funding and the barring of schools in the district from 'interschool activities'.