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Texas

Bullied, gay student suspended after tearing pages from personal Bible

Monday, November 4, 2013

RICHLAND HILLS, Texas — The American Humanist Association, an atheist rights advocacy organization, has sent a complaint letter to a Texas school district, claiming that administrators violated a student’s First Amendment rights when they suspended him for tearing Bible pages in school.

Via: FacebookIsaiah Smith

Via: Facebook
Isaiah Smith

Isaiah Smith, a gay, African American student at Birdville High School in Richland Hills, Texas, said he was bullied by other students who repeatedly told him that “being gay is a sin” and “gays go to hell.”

In protest, Smith tore pages of Leviticus from his copy of the Bible and was sent to the assistant principal’s office on the grounds that he was being disruptive in class.

“At my high school, some kids like to say that being gay is a sin and that you can’t be gay and Christian,” Smith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I wanted to bring my Bible to school and interpret the books of Leviticus and Romans, because they are often used to bully gay people.”

Smith, 18, said he reported the bullying and was allowed to continue to carry the Bible with him during school hours, as long as he didn’t further tear the pages. However, three days later, Smith alleges he was suspended for simply continuing to carry the ripped Bible.

“This is a clear violation of Isaiah’s First Amendment rights,” said Monica Miller, an attorney and legal consultant with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the legal arm of the American Humanist Association.

“The only explanation for this kind of punishment is that it was religiously motivated, because he expressed different beliefs on the Bible than those held by school officials. There’s no legal basis for that kind of reaction,” she said.

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Smith, a senior, has never before been suspended, and he has no known record of behavior which might warrant a harsh punishment from school officials.

According to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the Bible he tore was his personal property and had torn it as an expression of protest, which was fully in accordance with his constitutional rights to free speech.

The letter calls for all records of the suspension to be expunged, for Smith’s torn Bible to be returned to him, and for the school to either allow Smith to carry his torn bible or to prohibit all students from carrying religious texts in school.

If the school doesn’t comply, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center said it plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of the student.

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54 more reader comments:

  1. Insane!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:44am
  2. Batshit guano insane

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:46am
  3. tan much?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:50am
  4. Well if I were bullied like that, I’d rip the whole book in half in front of their faces

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:50am
  5. he’s had it.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:50am
  6. Sue their asses and collect your due, brother. Absolutely no good explanation for this other than pure homophobic bigotry. Good for him for standing his ground!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:52am
  7. I don’t know whether to say Way to go! or What a bonehead! :/

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:52am
  8. He's a hero. Fuck the bible

    Replied on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:56am
  9. I'm a Methodist but I'm not serious with my religion. And as much as I don't like the Bible (never read it), the only way I will believe in it is if I see the one made by God himself. Not this poor attempt made by man. King James The Third or somethin' stupid.

    Replied on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:58am
  10. You know what??? I’m behind this student one hundred percent!!! He had EVERY right to tear them pages out of the bible!!! He should’ve pissed on them too while he was at it that would’ve been even BETTER!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:52am
  11. Totaly insane! Its the bullies who should be suspended.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:56am
  12. Let’s hope he sues the school.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:58am
  13. Texasses.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:59am
  14. i’d have burned that fucking thing myself

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 4:59am
  15. This is total Bullshit!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:05am
  16. I have torn up three bibles. Dont give me one it will be ripped.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:05am
  17. Why weren’t the ones who bullied him suspended? He was trying to make a point, with his OWN Bible. Where is the crime?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:07am
  18. The crime, according to hypoChristians, is that he dared to deface the "Word of God". They couldn't care less that he was being treated horribly by people who claimed to be Christian, but wouldn't know how to act like one if Jesus, himself, came down and told them how.

    Replied on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 12:05pm
  19. Heaven forbid you tear such a sacred book for the hands himself…lol what ignorant people

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:07am
  20. I thought religious icons had nothing to do with a non-catholic school

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:08am
  21. “Secularists Pro Bono Nonsecular Discrimination Case” sounds better. xP

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:22am
  22. Nobody is going to miss Leviticus, any way.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:26am
  23. Texas, huh? This is my look of non-surprise.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:38am
  24. what’s the penalty if I did number 1 on this fantasy book?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:43am
  25. bull shit

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 5:47am
  26. Lol atleast he destroyed a book and not a living thing.a book can be replaced,people cant.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:05am
  27. Karen -the bullies weren’t suspended because they represented the majority view, along with the administrators. The American Taliban strikes again!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:07am
  28. This, is such BULLSHIT!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:08am
  29. I’d have beat them up while tearing that shitty make up book in half

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:14am
  30. Stop the insanity! Live and let live.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:21am
  31. The school is an absurdity.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:30am
  32. I am thinking I will not be able to stay in my school it is a Christian one, I can’t stand all the references about Christ and God in the other students papers, and we are in a drug and alcohol class for our therapy lic. what? crazy shits.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:33am
  33. Wow First off I do not blame the guy. Schools in Tx at least when I was there can be like that sadly. Some of those hilly billies are fucks. Like in Ce king when I went to that low class school. But that said maybe if the school did not allow those loser kids to bully him and keep telling him he wrong for being gay all the time he would not have done what he did with the bible since it bugged them so damn much.. Basically they failed him as a student the school system.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 6:52am
  34. Fuck the bible. Burn that shit. Is freedom of speech not allowed anymore?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 7:58am
  35. it’s his book isn’t it, so what’s the problem…

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 8:09am
  36. Any page that fosters hate toward another is by no means a message to be followed by any loving person!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 8:10am
  37. It’s HIS bible. He can tear the papers out, take them to the bathroom and use them to wipe his ass if he wants to. That’s HIS decision, because it’s HIS own copy. I can tear pages out of a notebook I own all I want, can’t I??? Hell, once I used pages from the bible I was given in catechism class to burn herbs in a smoking blend. And it was MY right to do so, cuz I owned the bible. Same goes for him too. The only reason he got in trouble is because somebody was butt-hurt that he tore out a few pages. If people are telling you that being gay is a sin, show them what a real sin looks like- by making them see themselves…. pursue legal action!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 8:42am
  38. Fuck duh bible, it’s a source of stupidity and hatred in the world. The State has no business suspending anyone for showing dislike towards hate filled bigoted works of stupidity aimed at gearing humanity towards hatred towards the rest of humanity for insufficient reasoning.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 9:24am
  39. He has the right to treat his bible as he wants.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 9:45am
  40. First big surprise…it’s Texas. Second big surprise, which is not really a surprise considering the first big surprise…the students who did the bullying were not suspended. The depth of wrong in this Texas school is so low that it horrifies me to think that I share a nation with them.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 11:35am
  41. But the bullies didn’t tear pages out of a gay book. They bullied a person. “I’m tearing pages out of a book because someone bullied me.”doesn’t work.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 11:40am
  42. His point was not that he thought it would make the bullies stop, but rather to bring attention to the situation so that he might be able to bring about long lasting change in the bullies.

    Replied on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 12:16pm
  43. I would of burnt the fucking book or shuved it up one of their asses

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 11:41am
  44. Uh its his own bible, he can do with it whatever he wants. I guess burning the Q’uran is a-ok though.
    Fucking America.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 11:42am
  45. Okay, okay. Tear up all the books and leave bullies alone. That’ll show em.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 11:47am
  46. a lot of christians just don’t know where and when to stop. they will also be punished for their actions.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 11:48am
  47. School’s clearly out of line. Doesn’t mean they’ll back down, though. Authorities like to prove they have power – especially when dealing with kids and others with less power. Hope it resolves well.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 12:00pm
  48. but you need that paper to smoke weed

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 12:46pm
  49. He shouldnt have torn the bible… Its kinda insulting n the wrong way to prove what he wants and yet its also wrong for those who bullied, but what did he expect when he did what he did? Im gay as well n believe in Jesus but that whole situation could have been avoided n not been provoked…

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 1:10pm
  50. The Bible, what a joke book!! All these crazy right wing fanatics who believe the Bible is the book of books. They need to check out the “God” cemetery. Where they buried all the previous gods who are now myths!! this is still America and this kid can tear up any book he wants to as expression of his First Amendment rights!!! Though what you do you expect from Texas where a local teacher was told he could not bring his snakes to his science class. Reason? Because the snakes are the decendents of the serpent to tempted Eve and they need not tempt young people!!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 1:31pm
  51. I would have burned the bible on the principles desk!

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 1:38pm
  52. So putting the religious respect aside for a minute. Why weren’t the bullies suspended. Why is there no support from schools? At least he didn’t show up with a gun. Why are the victims of bullying more criticized and blamed? It can’t get better without proper help from the school staff. Zero tolerance for bullying. Period.

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 2:05pm
  53. Correct me if I’m wrong, he was suspended and the bullies weren’t?!?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 2:16pm
  54. Disgusting

    Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 2:23pm