Lousiana school board settles religious harassment lawsuit

Federal lawsuit alleged sixth grader was routinely belittled for being Buddhist

Last week in New Orleans, the ACLU settled lawsuit with a Louisiana school board on behalf of a sixth grader who says he was routinely harassed by teachers and administrators because of his Buddhist beliefs.

Settlement In Suit Involving La. Buddhist Student

The federal lawsuit, filed in January, alleged that a teacher at Negreet High School in Sabine Parish declared that Buddhism was stupid. It also said the school regularly incorporated Christian prayer into classes and school events and scrolled Bible verses on an electronic marquee in front of the school.

The student, a lifelong Buddhist of Thai descent, enrolled at Negreet earlier this year and quickly became the target of religious harassment by the school's staff. When his parents raised the issue with school officials,the superintendent told them that "this is the Bible belt" and suggested they change their son's faith.

The agreement filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Shreveport contains a long list of prohibited practices. For instance, it says school officials won't discourage or encourage religious activities; they won't assign readings from religious texts, absent a non-religious educational purpose; and they won't express their personal religious beliefs in class or at school events.

"No child should feel that a teacher is trying to impose religious beliefs, and this agreement ensures that this will no longer be the case at Sabine Parish schools," said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "We're glad the school board worked with us to bring this matter to a quick and amicable resolution."
The consent decree includes an award of $4,000 to the family to cover past costs of transporting the student to attend another school. The Sabine Parish School Board will also provide him with bus transportation to continue to attending the other school.

More here: ACLU Wins Lawsuit Over Harassment Of Buddhist Student By School Officials

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