Magazine article Church & State

Parents Say la. Public School Discriminated against Buddhist Student

Magazine article Church & State

Parents Say la. Public School Discriminated against Buddhist Student

Article excerpt

The parents of a Buddhist child in Louisiana are taking on their local school board after their son was allegedly harassed due to his religious beliefs.

Sharon and Scott Lane claim that their son was the "target of proselytization and harassment by faculty and administration" in northern Louisiana's Sabine Parish School System because he is not Christian. The lawsuit alleges that students in the child's sixth-grade science class were told anyone who doesn't believe in God is "stupid" and that he was marked down on tests when he failed to answer questions about religion.

The lawsuit asserts that students were given a fill-in-the-blank question reading, "Isn't it amazing what the --has made!" The suit also says that other students received extra credit for adding Bible passages to tests and the boy's teacher skipped over science textbook chapters on evolution.

The lawsuit, Lane vs. Sabine Parish School Board, was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana. It asks that the Lanes' son no longer be subject to proselytizing and harassment. It also seeks a financial penalty.

"This was not an instance where someone can say it was a well intentioned, but perhaps misguided, teacher, or a principal, that wanted to make sure kids 'got saved,"' ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "The teacher, principal and superintendent are all complicit in religious indoctrination to the point that they engaged in public humiliation of a student of a different faith."

Before filing suit, the Lanes attempted to resolve the matter outside of court, but it did not go well. They first complained to Negreet High School Principal Gene Wright, who allegedly decided to read the Lanes' complaint over the school loudspeaker. The Lanes also claim to have received an unsympathetic response from Sabine Parish School System Superintendent Sara Ebarb, who told them they were "in the Bible Belt" and advised their son to switch to a school with "more Asians. …

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