FORT WORTH — A homosexual student in Texas was suspended last week for ripping pages of Leviticus out of his Bible during his Spanish class.
Isaiah Smith is an 18-year-old senior at Birdville High School in North Richland Hills. Last week, he brought his Bible to his first period Spanish class to refute his fellow classmates who state that homosexuality is a sin, or violation of the law of God. Smith identifies as a Christian, but asserts that his homosexuality does not conflict with his faith.
“At my high school, some kids like to say that being gay is a sin and that you can’t be gay and Christian,” Smith told the Star-Telegram. “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.”
He stated that as students again contended last Monday that he would go Hell for violating God’s law, he began tearing pages out of the Book of Leviticus and other portions of Scripture.
However, Smith was then reprimanded by Vice Principal Glenn Serviente, who arrived at the classroom and instructed Smith to follow him to his office. Smith told reporters that Serviente advised that he was causing a disruption to the learning environment by tearing up his Bible in class. He states that he was told by Serviente that he could carry his Bible in school if he wished, but he could not rip pages out of it.
Two days later, Smith was called back to the vice principal’s office.
“How would Muslims feel if a student was tearing up the Quran?” Serviente asked, according to reports.
Smith responded that he understood that other students would not like it, but noted that he was not tearing up another person’s Bible, but rather his own.
He was then suspended from school for three days and his torn Bible was confiscated.
However, now Smith has retained legal assistance from the Washington-based American Humanist Association (AHA), which is demanding that the strike be expunged from Smith’s record.
“Isaiah’s Bible was not the source of disruption, the bullying was,” AHA attorney Bill Burgess told reporters. “Instead of reprimanding the bullies, the school punished Isaiah for offering an alternative viewpoint on the Bible.”
Burgess contends that the school violated Smith’s violated Smith’s First Amendment rights to free speech, and may sue the school district if it declines to comport with the organization’s demands. AHA sent a letter to district following the incident, requesting compliance “lest [Birdville ISD] face legal action.”
But district spokesman Mark Thomas told the Dallas Observer that the suspension is not about the Bible, but rather Smith’s behavior.
“[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 said.