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.
…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.