Fort Wayne, IL -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 7-year-old boy after he was "banished" from the rest of his classmates for stating that he did not believe in God.
According to the suit, the child, named only as A.B., was punished after he told a student on the playground that he didn't go to church and didn't believe in God. The suit states:
The classmate said that A.B. had hurt her feelings by saying that he did not believe in God and started to cry. A playground supervisor reported to Ms. Meyer what had happened.
At that point, the students were going to lunch and Ms. Meyer asked A.B. if he had told the girl that he did not believe in God and A.B. said he had and asked what he had done wrong. Ms. Meyer asked A.B. if he went to church, whether his family went to church, and whether his mother knew how he felt about God.
After humiliating the young boy for not worshiping the same as her, Ms. Meyer forced the young boy to sit by himself at lunch for three days. He was also told that he was not allowed to talk to other students because he had offended them.
According to the lawsuit, this ostracization was distressing to A.B., as it implied that he had done something wrong by expressing his personal opinion.
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However, according to the suit, the hurt did not end there.
According to a report out of Russia Today,
The matter was then sent to “another adult” employed at Forest Park Elementary School. Upon hearing the story, the adult reportedly told AB's classmate that she should be “happy she has faith” and that she “should not listen to AB's bad ideas.”She then patted the girl's hand.
Despite Myer's claim that she would contact AB's parent, that phone call never took place. Instead, 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 religious views. The teacher was also included in the call, during which she confirmed her involvement in the matter.
After the phone call, the staff apparently told A.B. that he could believe what he wanted. In response to the lawsuit, the school district released the following 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.”
Unfortunately this statement is too little, too late. The damage was already done. After being shunned by classmates for three straight days, this poor young boy now feels“anxious and fearful” about returning to school. The family is suing the school district for an undisclosed amount.