The parents of a sixth-grader in northern Louisiana are suing a public school teacher for telling a Buddhist student that his beliefs are “stupid,” teaching creationism to her science class, and telling students that evolution is impossible.
The Thai student at Negreet High School in Many, La., says his science teacher, Rita Roark, not only mistreated him for his beliefs, but also taught her class that the earth is just 6,000 years old and everything in the bible is real.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit in federal district court Wednesday on behalf of parents Scott and Sharon Lane and their three children. The claim against Roark, the school board, Superintendent Sara Ebarb, and Principal Gene Wright says their son was the target of harassment by school staff.
They accuse Roark of including religious questions on tests, including, “Isn’t it amazing what the _______ has made?”
The lawsuit says when the boy "did not write in Roark's expected answer (LORD), she belittled him in front of the rest of the class."
The ACLU says the Sabine Parish School Board routinely pushes Christian beliefs on students, allowing prayer at the school.
The boy’s step-father wrote a statement, published by the ACLU, explaining their dilemma.
“We don’t begrudge others their right to their Christian faith,” wrote Scott Lane. “But that’s why the separation of church and state is so important: It gives us all the breathing room and freedom to believe what we want to believe and to practice those beliefs without undue influence or interference by the government. Forcing your beliefs on another is not freedom; it is oppression.”
The ACLU has called on the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justive to investigate the school district.
“Public schools should be welcoming places for students of all backgrounds,” Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, told The Associated Press. “No child should be harassed and made to feel like an outsider in his own classroom, and students should not have to endure school officials constantly imposing their religious beliefs on them while they are trying to learn.”