The parents of a Missouri middle school student say they are taking a stand for their son’s rights after a teacher reportedly told him he wasn’t allowed to read his Bible during free reading time in class.
Loyal Grandstaff, 12, says he loves to read his Bible and that’s why he took it to school with him before classes let out for Christmas break. Loyal says he wanted to read it in his free time but his seventh-grade teacher at Bueker Middle School in Marshall, Missouri said that wasn’t allowed.
“I was just reading, just reading because I had free time. A time to do what I wanted to, so I just broke it out and read,” Loyal told WDAF News. He said he wasn’t reading out loud or talking to other students about the book.
The boy’s dad, Justin Grandstaff, says he feels his son’s rights were violated.
“I feel like it violated his freedom of religion but also his freedom of speech,” he said.
Grandstaff went on to say that he was trying to raise his children to honor God, work hard and do the right things, and is upset that his son was told not to read the Bible when other students are seemingly getting away with more serious offenses.
“There’s kids walking around disrespecting their teachers, kids walking around cussing and everything else and they’re practically getting into no trouble at all,” Grandstaff said.
The story might call to mind an April incident at a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida elementary school in which a 12-year-old student was told he couldn’t read his Bible in class. The parents of the student sought the help of the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based conservative legal group, and threatened a lawsuit.
In May, the Miami Herald reported Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie held a press conference and publicly apologized for the incident. Runcie explained that it should have been handled differently and that students were allowed to read the Bible during free reading time.
Liberty Institute then pressed for the Bible to be included in an accelerated reading program’s curriculum — something they said should have permitted all along. Breitbart News reported later in May that the school announced the Bible was also permitted during reading time for that program.
Lance Tobin, the principal of Bueker Middle School, told WDAF the Bible was not banned from his school but that he would need to look into the recent incident and get more details before commenting further.
Grandstaff said he has not had a chance to speak with the teacher or the principal because of the Christmas holiday, but said he plans to Tuesday when classes resume at the school.
Photo Credit: Screenshot from WDAF News, Wikimedia Commons