Gay teen Isaiah Smith, an 18-year-old senior at Birdville High School in North Richland, TX, was suspended for ripping pages out of his Bible in class. Why would he do something so controversial? He says he did it because he was being bullied in school for his claims of being both gay and Christian. He told theFort Worth Star Telegram:
“At my high school, some kids like to say that being gay is a sin and that you can’t be gay and Christian. I wanted to bring my Bible to school and interpret the books of Leviticus and Romans, because they are often used to bully gay people.”
Smith brought his Bible to his first-period Spanish class, hoping to confront those who had been bullying him. The situation started to get out of control when students, taking advantage of a substitute teacher, started to taunt him, saying that he was going to hell for being gay.
At that point, the gay teen stood up and began ripping pages out of Leviticus in front of the whole class. The other students were stunned by his actions. Smith’s reason for taking action? Rather than using the Bible as a weapon to hurt others, Smith said “I think the Bible was a tool for Christians to use to guide them spiritually, emotionally and mentally.”
The incident took place on Monday, October 28. Vice Principal Glenn Serviente got wind of the situation and called Smith into his office. The student began to explain to Serviente that he had torn the Bible as a way of protesting the bullying he had received. Serviente explained to Smith that he couldn’t rip the Bible any more. Smith agreed and the situation seemed to be over.
But according to a letter from the American Humanist Association, Serviente was not done with Smith. The Vice Principal called the gay teen into his office on the following Wednesday because Smith had been carrying the Bible around school both Tuesday and Wednesday. Serviente asked Isaiah, “how would Muslims feel if a student was tearing up the Qur-an?”
Sensing that Smith was being uncooperative, the Vice Principal suspended Smith and demanded that the ripped Bible be handed over. Isaiah said no, stating he had not torn the Bible since Monday as he was instructed. Frustrated, Serviente proceeded to take the Bible and informed Smith that he would serve a three day suspension.
In a discipline slip provided to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the reason for Smith’s dismissal was stated as a “distraction and disruption in class by tearing up Bible in class.” Because Smith felt that the bullies were the ones who should have received consequences, he contacted the American Humanist Association to help him file a lawsuit for violation of his first amendment rights.
Was it an unfair punishment? Or do you think the gay teen should have been suspended for ripping up the Bible in class?