UPDATE: The ruling was actually published on Marc. 17, and I have no idea why I thought it was this week. At any rate, the story stands, and the update is still an update to what was previously published. Thanks to a reader for pointing this out.
Here’s some good news from Louisiana, home of institutionalized creationism in schools (the voucher schools in that state, which are supported by taxpayers, still teach creationism). In January I mentioned a Raw Story piece that Negreet High School in Louisiana had humiliated a Buddhist student who dared question the Christian creationism rampant in the school, including in science classes. The student and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the school. The report from January’s Raw Story said this (my emphasis):
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against Negreet High School in Sabine Parish on behalf of two parents, Scott and Sharon Lane, and their son, “C.C.” The lawsuit claims the school has “a longstanding custom, policy, and practice of promoting and inculcating Christian beliefs,” including the teaching of creationism.
Sixth-grade teacher Rita Roark has told her students that the universe was created by God about 6,000 years ago, and taught that both the Big Bang theory and evolution are false, according to the lawsuit. She told her students that “if evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today.”
One test she gave to students asked: “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The correct answer was “Lord,” but C.C. wrote in something else. Roark responded by scolding the boy in front of the entire class.
When informed that C.C. was a Buddhist and therefore didn’t believe in God, Roark allegedly responded, “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.”
On another accusation, she allegedly described both Buddhism and Hinduism as “stupid.”
When the outraged parents confronted Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebarb about the incidents, she allegedly told them “this is the Bible belt” and that they “shouldn’t be offended” to “see God here.” Ebarb advised that C.C. should either change his faith or be transferred to another District school where “there are more Asians.”
That steonewalling reminds me of what the Lebanon School District RIII is doing now. And, as in Lebanon, the creationism was endemic, not just a one-off thing by one teacher:
. . . The lawsuit claims that other teachers and faculty members also push Christian beliefs on their students. Prayer is often lead by teachers in classrooms and during school events. Religious literature that denounces evolution and homosexuality has been distributed by faculty members to students. The school’s hallways are filled with Christian iconography and electronic marquee in front of the school scrolls Bible verses.
But according to an article in Monday’s Raw Story, the parents of the student (the complainants) and the ACLU just won their suit against the school.
Judge Elizabeth Foote of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana sided with C.C. and his parents, citing that Roark’s behavior — and the school’s decision to defend it — clearly violated “the Free Exercise and Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
With regard to the specific behavior of Roark, Judge Foot wrote that “[t]he District and School Board are permanently enjoined from permitting School Officials at any school within the School District to promote their personal religious beliefs to students in class or during or in conjunction with a School Event.” Furthermore, “School Officials shall not denigrate any particular faith, or lack thereof, or single out any student for disfavor or criticism because of his or her particular faith or religious belief, or lack thereof.”
She also ordered that all members of the school board, as well as all faculty — both current and incoming — be trained by an attorney approved by the ACLU and the ACLU of Louisiana as to their responsibilities with respect to the First Amendment. The training will emphasize the “the psychological and developmental impact of religious discrimination on students.”
I love that the school board and faculty will have to take lessons from and ACLU attorney about the First Amendment. Can’t you imagine how they’ll be fuming about that?
Now Louisiana is even more conservative than Missouri, home of Lebanon High School and its hyperreligious school board, and yet a Louisiana federal district judge faulted the school for violating the First Amendment. The school district there will, of course, have to foot the bill for substantial court costs.
You can see judge Foote’s decision here. Here’s one part relevant to the case in Missouri:
h/t: Haggis for Brains