American Humanists Target Birdville ISD for Suspending Student Who Tore Pages From a Bible

IsaiahSmithFacebookMug.jpg
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Isaiah Smith isn't one to lay down in the face of injustice. When the Birdville High School student, who is gay, learned via a TV show that restaurants can legally refuse to serve gay people, he petitioned the Keller City Council to ban LGBT discrimination. When he decided that the Pledge of Allegiance violates the separation of church and state, and that its claim of "liberty and justice for all" was bull, he protested by refusing to join his peers in saying it. And when his classmates kept telling him that being gay is a sin, and that gays go to hell, he tore several pages of Leviticus from a Bible in class, then carried the Bible around the school after being warned not to.

He was eventually suspended, which is where the American Humanist Association stepped in. Their legal arm sent a letter to Birdville ISD officials on Thursday alleging that their decision to discipline Smith violated his right to free speech and demanding that his suspension be lifted "lest [Birdville ISD] face legal action."

The incident -- Smith's version of it at least -- is detailed in the letter.

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The bullies repeatedly told Isaiah, a fellow Christian, that being gay is a sin, that gays go to hell, and that he too would go to hell. Isaiah brought his Bible to school to show the bullies why he did not believe it condemns gay persons. Isaiah believes that the Bible is a tool that Christians are suppose [sic] to use, so that they can be guided spiritually, physically, mentally and psychologically. As soon as Isaiah began getting bullied by classmates in his first period class on Monday, he reached for his Bible and tore out the pages containing the book of Leviticus among other scriptures. Moments later, the assistant principal, Glenn Serviente, told Isaiah to follow him to his office. Isaiah told the assistant principal about the bullying. Serviente, citing Tinker v. Des Moines School District, told Isaiah that tearing the Bible, but oddly not the bullying he had to endure, creates a disruption. Isaiah responded, stating he would not tear the Bible at school in the future but asked if he could carry it. Serviente said that he could carry the Bible, so long as he did not tear it. He made Isaiah stay in his office until the school bell rang.

Isaiah carried the torn Bible in his hand the remainder of the day without any disruption. He continued to carry the same Bible on Tuesday without any resulting disruption. However, when Isaiah brought the same book to school on Wednesday, also without any resulting disruption, the assistant principal called Isaiah into his office and immediately began to reprimand him. He asked Isaiah, "how would Muslims feel if a student was tearing up the Qur-an?" and then told him he was suspended. He then demanded Isaiah to give him the book. Isaiah said no, informing Serviente that he did not tear the Bible since being told on Monday that he could not do so. The assistant principal clarified that Isaiah was suspended for merely carrying a ripped Bible at school. He then reached for Isaiah's Bible without his permission and slammed it on his desk. First he said Isaiah was suspended from school for the remainder of the day, but then changed his mind and told Isaiah he was suspended for three days. He also confiscated Isaiah's Bible.

Federal student privacy laws prohibit Birdville ISD officials from commenting on individual student discipline. District spokesman Mark Thomas declined to address specifics but wrote in an email, "This is not related to the Bible."

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"[A]ny recurring incident that disrupts the learning process is dealt with according to policy and appropriate disciplinary action is taken according to that policy," he wrote, adding, "I question the paper's reason for wanting to run a story on any general student discipline."

Question away.


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29 comments
mikeallen1965
mikeallen1965

This punk needs 20 licks with a fiberglass paddle!

rush.kristin
rush.kristin

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED


Setting the record straight here. Isaiah has been trouble since he arrived at Birdville High School. He has been harassing his fellow classmates. 

Him being a black, openly gay atheist does not automatically make him the victim. Here's what REALLY happened.

We've all had experience with the one student in class who loudly and openly claims everyone has a problem with them because they happen to be a minority. 
"Are you saying that because I'm black?...It's because I'm gay huh?...Because I'm an atheist right?" 
Isaiah had not been taunted before ripping up his bible, nor had he been quoting scripture or using it to verbally prove any point. He simply tore the entire bible up, threw it on the ground and proceeded to ask his fellow students if any of them had a lighter so that he could burn it. When none of the students gave him the reaction he desired, he harassed a student at her locker. She wouldn't talk to him after the scene he'd made and, as she reached into her locker, he proceeded to ask her back-to-back questions, without allowing her to respond, "Why aren't you talking to me? Is it because of what I did? Are you scared of me? Did that scare you? Do you have a problem with me?"

He claimed that other students told him that you can't be gay and Christian. No student ever told him that but, even if they had, at what point would he have cared? He's openly atheist and doesn't want to be a Christian anyway. So that makes no sense.

None of the students at Birdville High School have anything against gay, black or atheist people. There have been multiple gay students complete their schooling there successfully and happily with many straight, white, mexican and Christian friends and peers. 

What saddens me is that, immediately following his suspension, Isaiah proceeded to contact the local news and give his (extremely skewed) side of the story and the "journalist" he spoke with never bothered to interview the other students subjected to the bullying that Isaiah was doing. 

I guess this kind of news is what people want to read though. 

OH! And don't let me fail to mention that, a few days ago, Isaiah reported to authorities that some of his fellow classmates had been talking about plotting to MURDER THE PRESIDENT, which is just ludicrous, and his classmates were then interrogated by secret service agents! 

This is all just ridiculous and nobody will see it all for what's really going on! He is obviously doing all of this for attention and it is a cry for help.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

so much for freedom of speech/expression

katysps3
katysps3

Haha, yeah, except he's an atheist, didn't just tear out Leviticus but absolutely destroyed the Bible, went around asking for a lighter so that he could burn the book and by many accounts isn't the victim, but an actual bully himself.

Good job on this one main stream media. Apparently all you need to do these days is interview one source, especially the one that's being "censured" and sensationalize the hell out of it until you have an article.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

How far this country has sunk. Bullying is now approved policy for these cretins.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

His own bible, he can tear it up all he wants.  Carrying the bible is a disruption? Are they sure that other kids making a dramatic commotion about this boy, his bible and the tearing of the pages, are not the real disruption?  Seems like a lot of attention seeking from all sides of this issue.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Bible pages make really good rolling papers in a pinch I learned in high school. To this day I have my high school bible and it's missing quite a few pages.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

You can't carry a Bible around school and preach with it.  You not only torment the students but will offend others who don't believe as you do.

it works both ways.

NotMe
NotMe

He's an American. He's free to rip up the Bible all he wants. That's one of the great things about living here. This isn't Iran. He can tear up the Koran, too.

WildkatXS
WildkatXS

@rush.kristin 

This is exactly what happened. 

There are always going to be people who choose not to believe the truth because it doesn't follow along with what they want to be true.

The school is extremely diverse and welcomes kids from all walks of life, beliefs, religions and sexual orientations.

Stereotyping Texans is just another way to close your mind and promote division.

and sure the article states that he is Christian... but those of us who actually know him, know better.

etseq
etseq

@rush.kristin Dude...you aren't fooling anyone - you just created this profile to troll.  What is it about a gay kid that would make some idiot on the internet write over 10 paragraphs about this story?  My guess is like most homophobic internet trolls, you are a closet case who can't deal with being gay so you lash out.  I hope you don't waste your life like most sad pathetic self-loathers.

stickupyours
stickupyours

@rush.kristin saying in a group you want to kill Obama, is treason and I sure as heck wouldnt type it..I want the man to live healthy and free as I also bow down to our benevolent corporate overlords.

scambs04
scambs04

@rush.kristin  :: Please re-read.  The article states that he is a Christian.  So many questions regarding this rant.  Did he ever say that his being black and openly gay makes him an automatic victim or are you projecting your own generalizations onto others? Do you even know him personally?  Were you even there?  I'm going to make an assumption as well, and say no.

loupokami
loupokami

@rush.kristin I'm less inclined to believe your side simply because this is Texas we're talking about. You want me to believe that a black, openly gay, atheist student in north central Texas was not harassed and bullied enough to get to this point, and no one in that school had anything against people like him? You're full of crap. I agree, this probably is a cry for help, because it's really easy to lose your voice in a state full of ignorant fanatics. 

loupokami
loupokami

@katysps3 I would have torn pages out and wiped my rear with them. It's about as much respect as I have for that book or the religion (and in many cases the people associated with them). 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@katysps3 yes, me must not allow defamation of the Bible.  Freedom of expression is for commies, I guess

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@P1Gunter Everybody's bible is missing a few pages.  It's a very equivocal work, only one with multiple personality disorder, or poor reading comprehension would suggest the bible says any one thing on any subject

ryan762
ryan762

@holmantx Sure you can carry a Bible around school and preach with it (as long as you are not preaching during classroom instruction time).

You can even hand out candy canes with a completely made up religious origin story.

You can even be an agent of the school and put religious messages on banners for the football players to run through at games.

zaczoo99
zaczoo99

@NotMe 

yea, go ahead....tear it up...it will cause an uproar because people are generally stupid and will react in a violent manner...it is not a good idea if you have any plans of self preservation...

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@NotMe How would tearing up the Bible or tearing up the Koran differ from bullying Christians on the one hand or Muslims on the other? Living in a democracy necessarily requires respect for others' religious beliefs. Insult is not respect.

There are those who use free speech to badger and bully those that they do not agree with. Isaiah sounds like he's well down the path to becoming an self-righteous twit, the mirror-image of his tormentors

That said, Serviente should have promptly rounded up those who have been bullying Isaiah for a stern lecture and some collective punishment.  Since he didn't he stands as an accessory to bullying.


doublecheese
doublecheese

@NotMe I really doubt he'd be allowed to tear up a Koran at school...

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@NotMe  

This reminds me of an old Cold War joke:

An American diplomat and a Russian diplomat met at a party one evening at the American Embassy in Moscow.

The American was bragging about how wonderful America is.  In fact, he could stand on the sidewalk in front of the White House and scream at the top of his lungs that the American President is a fool and an idiot.  The American diplomat told his Russian counterpart that he could not do the same in front of the Kremlin.

The Russian diplomat gave a hearty laugh and said that Russia too is a wonderful country.  The Russian said that not only can I stand in front of the Kremlin and scream at the top of my lungs that the American President is a fool and an idiot, but that I will receive a medal for it as well.

martinjb47
martinjb47

@WildkatXS @rush.kristin Yeah but in fairness, you believe in a talking snake so how much credibility do you really have...

For those interested in a slightly more earth-bound version of reality, this blog gives up-to-date details of what actually happened (including how the school, so confident that they were acting reasonably, totally capitulated at the first sign of having to prove the above "version" in a court of law) with the added bonus that the author doesn't claim to hear voices in their head telling them what to do (or other symptoms of advanced schizophrenia):
http://richarddawkins.net/2014/06/how-one-student-uncovered-multiple-constitutional-violations-at-his-high-school/

For those good ol' southern citizens who are perfectly satisfied with the above, ahem, "version" however, I simply advise you to avoid the mistakes your parents made and have children with someone who isn't also your sibling.


With love xx

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ryan762 @holmantx 

Can you?  I'm pretty sure you can't rant, proselytize or otherwise Elmer Gantry in DISD, but I might be wrong.

ruddski
ruddski

Tear up an image of Obama in a diverse school, that might be interesting.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@doublecheese @NotMe nor a bible.  So much for that canard that Muslims are uniquely defensive of their faith.  What Muslim nation is occupying Christian lands?   How many Muslim lands are we in?

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