The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana is suing the Sabine Parish School Board on behalf of a family who alleges that their son, a Buddhist, suffered from racial discrimination at his school. His teacher told students that Buddhists were “stupid” and encouraged the class to laugh at him, while the school regularly proselytized the Christian faith.
According to an ACLU complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Louisiana, the main offender, science teacher Rita Roark at Negreet High School, taught students that evolution is “impossible” while the Bible is “100 percent true.” Roark’s science tests included questions like "ISN'T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
According to Scott Lane, the stepfather of “C.C.,” Roark marked C.C.'s test wrong when he wrote “Lord Buddha” and “belittled him in front of the entire class” when he wrote nothing.
On one occasion a student stated in class that "people are stupid if they think God is not real." Roark responded, "Yes! That is right! I had a student miss that on his test," leading the whole class in laughter.
C.C, who is of Thai descent, has been a Buddhist his whole life. But at school he was subjected to regular Christian prayer, as well as religious iconography, Bible versus scrolling on the building's electronic marquee, and a large picture of Jesus hanging over the main doors.
C.C.’s parents tried to air their complaints with school board superintendent Sarah Ebarb. Ebarb responded, “this is the Bible belt” and advised C.C. to “change” his religion. She also suggested that the Lanes transfer C.C. to a school where “there are more Asians.” They did, in fact, transfer him—C.C. was having such bad anxiety at that it made him physically ill—but they encountered discrimination at his new school too.
"The treatment this child and his family have endured is not only disgraceful, it's unconstitutional," said Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.
The U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice will also investigate the school board at the ACLU’s request.