A Buddhist student and his family won a settlement last week against a Louisiana school district where the student’s religion was ridiculed in class as “stupid,” the teacher taught that evolution is “impossible,” and that the bible is “100 percent true.”
The court-approved consent decree prohibits future religious discrimination in a school district that had portraits of Jesus Christ in the halls and a “lighted, electronic marquee” outside one school that scrolls Bible verses. “Religious liberty, as embodied by the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and free speech are hallowed constitutional rights to which all are entitled,” the consent decree states.
Parents Scott and Sharon Lane alleged in their lawsuit that their attempts to report religious harassment were dismissed with comments that “this is the Bible Belt,” and that their son, referred to as “C.C.,” could either change his faith or transfer to another school where “there were more Asians.”
C.C.’s parents did transfer him to another school to curb his daily physical nausea and anxiety, even though it is a 30-minute drive from their home. But the school is in the same Sabine Parish district, and also promotes religious beliefs. The District posts a belief statement on its website that says, “We believe that: God exists.”
As part of the settlement, the school agreed to a permanent injunction on school-endorsed prayer during school events, promotion of religion, and “denigration of religion.” School staff will be required to participate in trainings with an attorney on the legal obligations of the settlement.