Two fired after LGBT students ‘harassed’ and ‘forced to read the bible’ as punishment
Two members of staff in a school district where LGBT students were cruelly discriminated against have been removed from their positions.
The principal of North Bend High School, Bill Lucero, and school resource officer Jason Griggs were both removed from their jobs following a settlement between the school district and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Oregon on Monday.
North Bend School District faced allegations of discrimination as a result of multiple incidents, including using the bible as a punishment for LGBT students.
Hailey Smith, one of the students at North Bend High School, detailed the discrimination she had faced for being out at school from both students and staff to the ACLU.
Smith wrote that she and her girlfriend at the time both faced a significant level of harassment and had her concerns ignored by senior staff.
She wrote: “I faced harassment and discrimination so many times at school, from both students and staff members.
“I felt my physical safety was in jeopardy, and the principal’s response – nothing – was disheartening.”
The former pupil revealed that one example of the discrimination involved a teacher comparing marriage equality to bestiality.
Smith said: “When I told the principal that my civics teacher called me out in front of the whole class and said same-sex marriage was ‘pretty much the same thing’ as marrying a dog, the principal told me ‘everybody has the right to their own opinion.’
“The next day, the teacher apologised, but as I walked away, he said, ‘Don’t go marrying your dog.'”
Smith then detailed an incident where she was walking with her girlfriend in a car park and was nearly run over by the principal’s son.
“All of a sudden the principal’s son sped right toward us in his car. We thought he was going to hit us,” Smith said.
“Instead, he drove right up next to us, yelled out ‘faggot!’ and veered away.”
When Smith brought her issues up to the school resource officer Jason Griggs, she was reportedly told that being gay was a choice and that because she was openly gay, she would be going to hell.
Smith filed a complaint with the Oregon Department of Education who originally brought the issues up at the school and with district superintendent Bill Yester in March.
The Oregon branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) became involved in the case and pushed for a settlement with the North Bend School District on behalf of Smith and other LGBT students affected.
Matt dos Santos, the legal director for the ACLU of Oregon stated on May 19: “LGBTQ students at the rural school on the Oregon coast have been harassed, threatened, bullied, and assaulted just for being who they are.
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“What is worse is that when these students turned to the adults in charge to protect them, the school administrators, teachers, and staff ignored their pleas for help.”
A settlement was reached on Monday on behalf of Smith and her former partner Liv Funk.
Announcing Monday’s settlement, dos Santos wrote: “It sends a clear message to everyone at the district: If you break the law by discriminating against LGBTQ students or engaging in religious proselytisation at school, there are serious consequences.”
As well as requiring the removal of the members of staff involved in the discrimination, the settlement also requires the school district to work with the ACLU to provide anti-discrimination training.
The school district will also face extra scrutiny from the state’s Board of Education for the next five years.
In May, the Hermiston School District in Oregon also faced criticism after banning students from taking part in a reading competition due to the inclusion of a book about a transgender child.