Atheist, 7, sparks Indiana lawsuit
A seven-year-old Indiana student was “banished” from sitting with his classmates at lunch after stating that he did not believe in God, according to a lawsuit which claims the school violated the child’s First Amendment rights.
The suit – filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana – claims the punishment occurred after the Forest Park Elementary School student, identified only as AB, told a female classmate that he didn’t go to church and didn’t believe in God.
This so uset the girl that she started to cry, saying that that AB had hurt her feelings.
This immediately put me in mind of the spoilt, lisping Violet-Elizabeth Bott:
If you don’t believe in God I’ll thcream and thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick.
The girl’s visible distress prompted a playground supervisor to report the incident to AB’s teacher, identified in the suit as Michelle Myer.
Myer then forced the boy to sit by himself at lunch for three days, and told him that he shouldn’t talk to the other students because he had offended them.
The lawsuit states that this was distressing to AB, as it implied that he had done something wrong by expressing his personal opinion.
However, according to the suit, the hurt did not end there.
The matter was then sent to “another adult” employed at Forest Park. Upon hearing the story, the adult reportedly told AB’s “Miss Bott” that she should be “happy she has faith” and that:
She should not listen to AB’s bad ideas.
Jesus’s precious little flower was then rewarded for her faith with a pat on her hand.
AB’s mother found out about the incident from her son, who came home from school upset and stating that he was hated by teachers and students at the school.
This prompted his mother to call the assistant principal of the school, demanding that her child not be punished for expressing his views on religion.
In response to the incident, the school district released a statement:
It is clear that it is not the province of a public school to advance or inhibit religious beliefs or practices. Under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, this remains the inviolate province of the individual and the church of his/her choice. The rights of any minority, no matter how small, must be protected.
Citing the violation of First Amendment rights, the suit is seeking damages and attorneys’ fees. The child’s mother has been allowed to proceed with the lawsuit anonymously, in order to protect her child’s identity.