Gay Texas Teen Suspended From School For Tearing Out Bible Pages from Leviticus

Isaiah Smith, an out gay student in Texas's Birdville Independent School District was suspended for ripping pages from his personal Bible during a first period class. The action, which took place on October 28th, was meant to be a protest against the invocation of theology in condemning homosexuality. Smith, a Christian, does not believe that the oft-cited biblical verses in Leviticus, hurled at him by classmates and political leaders alike, have anything to say against his sexual orientation. 

Now, The American Humanist Association has gotten involved, penning a letter to the school district arguing for Smith's first amendment rights to trump the suspension.

Isaiah smithHuffPost reports:

…Smith was subsequently sent to the assistant principal's office, who told him that though he could continue carrying around the ripped Bible, he shouldn't tear out any more pages.

However, on Wednesday the assistant principal reportedly called him into his office again to reprimand him for carrying the torn book and asked, "How would Muslims feel if a student was tearing up the Qur-an?” He was then suspended for three days and had his Bible confiscated, according to the letter.

“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.”

The American Humanist Association has argued that all students should either have no right to carry religious texts, or have the right to carry torn (or intact) versions of the texts of their choice. There are threats of a lawsuit should the appropriate action, including removing the suspension from Smith's record, not be carried out.

Photo via Isaiah Smith Campaign Facebook page.

Comments

  1. mmike1969 says

    I understand Texas is a backwards, ignorant hillbilly state that hates personal freedom unless you are a RWNJ gun-nut white male, but what justification do you idiots have suspending this kid when he damaged his PERSONAL bible?

  2. BlueRingedOctopus says

    “How would Muslims feel if a student was tearing up the Qur-an?” – Maybe these school officials should instead ask themselves for once in their hateful lives, “How do gays feel when being demonized and attacked relentlessly all around the world by enemies who are so serious, so numerous, and so resistant to remedy?”

    Unfortunately, I think anti-gays are missing the part of the brain that allows one to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

    They’re also so infected with anti-gay memes that they deserved a spot on the “Invasion of the Brain Snatchers” special by The Nature of Things.

  3. revchicoucc says

    The school is wrong in every aspect of this matter. If the Bible belongs to the student personally, he can both carry it with him and remove pages as he wishes. These are free exercise matters and they are protected under the First Amendment. Furthermore, confiscating the Bible, is improper. It is not a weapon and does not endanger the safety or well-being of the school and it’s occupants. Had it been a Bible in the school library, or any other book in the school library, I would feel differently. That someone is offended by his actions is immaterial.

  4. Bill says

    @MarkBoston: a simple apology is not enough. The school should also compensate him for a loss to his education, including any long term effects on his earning potential.

  5. Ernst Rhoem's Ghost says

    As usual you fools in Towleroad don’t know what you’re talking about. Institutions like schools, the army, the jails and courts all have the legitimate right to control and regulate individual behavior. The school suspended this little jerk because the other students were so offended that it seemed likely to cause trouble. Neither would he be allowed to tear-up a bible (or any other book)while sitting in a courtroom. For that matter, he’s not allowed to masturbate in public, either. We don’t have UNLIMITED FREEDOM in America. We’re not supposed to.

  6. Mary says

    If its HIS Bible, shouldn’t he be able to rip out pages from it? I don’t see what people are objecting to. Are they against book mutilation in general, or only Bible mutilation? The book didn’t belong to the school.

  7. jsb says

    @ERNST RHOEM’S GHOST

    How did you connect the illegality of public masturbation to this young man tearing pages out of his personal bible?

    That must have taken alot of mental gymnastics to connect those two.

  8. Lane says

    When I was in 10th grade in NC we had a section on the bible. My parents had to buy me one and I promptly covered it with snoopy contact paper. My teacher was pissed as hell but since my Mom was a teacher there also she did not try anything. It was my little way of making it a joke.

  9. Armando says

    If the government under the first amendment is not to endorse any one religion, then his suspension for “editing” of the bible is the state punishing someone for expressing his religious belief. On the other hand, because of compulsory education, students shouldn’t have to be forced to sit in a class and endure a political argument. That should include his or any other person in the school.

  10. Mitch says

    This is the very sort of bullying that must be eradicated from our schools – a difficult task when it starts with the principle.

    If anyone needs suspension, it’s the principle. He should be relieved of his position.

  11. Acronym Jim says

    Jeeves! Fetch me my fainting couch and clutching pearls (the new ones); I feel an attack of the vapors coming on!

    Never mind; it was just Ernst Rhoem’s Ghost. All stink and steam, no substance.

  12. says

    High school students who would walk around with a Bible wouldn’t be cheered by their fellow students they’d be laughed at. It’s as if none of you ever went to high school in the city. He was suspended for disruption. You’re buying into this guy’s desperate grab for attention. Please research. The world has changed since the 1960s. It’s ok to come outside.

  13. RexT says

    First Period, Students bring their personal bible, or religious book to class for some purpose related to education in a public school? He brought his personal religious book to class for the purpose of tearing out pages during a classroom activity in order to disrupt the classroom? Not very clear in the article. If he was purposely disruptive, whether it was his personal religious book or any other type of intentional disruption – dumb idea on his part. If the School is pursuing this ‘disruption’ based upon it being a religious book (aka their bible) his tearing out pages an affront to the book/religion otherwise known as ‘blasphemy’ – beyond dumb on the schools part. Amazing how we continue to hear of legislation being passed in various places outlawing ‘Sharia Law’ – while at the same time applying their own version as legitimate.

    And, @Geoff – well said.

  14. FFS says

    Stan, I think you missed the bit about this school being located in Birdville, Texas, making everything in your comment off the mark.

    You may as well have commented to tell us all how much you like corn on the cob.

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