LGBTQ Students Say School Officials Forced Them to Read Bible as Punishment

Another complaint alleges teacher compared same-sex marriage to bestiality.

By Hollie Silverman

A school district in Oregon is accused of a disturbing pattern of intimidation and harassment against LGBTQ students. Among the allegations: Students were forced to read the Bible as punishment, and a teacher compared same-sex marriage to marrying a dog.

In a letter this year, the state Department of Education found that the school district in North Bend, a coastal community in southern Oregon, discriminated against students on the basis of sexual orientation.

“There is substantial evidence to support the allegation that the district subjected LGBTQ students to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment,” the letter said.

The school disputes the findings and will make its case at a hearing May 24. At the time, state officials will determine whether the district violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

The allegations were detailed in a letter from the education department to North Bend School District Superintendent Bill Yester. Among them:

• A student said she was hit in the hand with a skateboard by another student who made homophobic comments. When the victim complained to the school resource officer, the officer was dismissive and said homosexuality was a choice and not in line with their personal religious beliefs, the student said.

• A student was required by the superintendent to read a passage from the Bible as punishment on at least two occasions. The building administrator acknowledged in an interview with state education officials that he required Bible reading as a form of discipline.

• During a class discussion, a teacher said “If same sex marriage is okay, what about marrying your dog? It’s about the same thing.”

Yester told CNN in a statement that only two of the allegations were ever brought to the district’s attention. The statement also said the district tried to mediate the matter with the students during a nine-hour session this month, but it was unsuccessful.


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