The ACLU of Louisiana on Tuesday urged the East Baton Rouge Parish School System to take action after a school bus driver allegedly tried to make a student “repent” because she thought he was gay.
In a letter to the Superintendent of East Baton Rouge Schools, the principal of Broadmoor High Schools, and the Director of Transportation for East Baton Rouge Schools, the ACLU argued that the bus driver had violated Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 by discriminating against the student with LGBT-related harassment.
The driver also violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause by proselytizing to a student, the ACLU said.
According to the letter, the 16-year-old student — who was identified only as John Doe — attempted to exit the school bus on Oct. 10, but he was stopped by the bus driver.
“The driver then asked John Doe if he went to church or participated in any church-like activity,” the letter explained. “When John Doe told the driver no, she told him that ‘going to church is how he can avoid sin.’ She proceeded to tell John Doe that homosexuality is a ‘sin’ and that he can go to hell for it.”
John Doe said that the driver warned him that he must “repent” for his “sinful ways” by praying to God, and by going to church. She also reportedly gave him advice on which Bible to get, and which church to attend.
After John Doe was released from the bus, he told his sister what happened, and she informed Principal Shalonda Simoneaux, who advised the students to “call transportation because I’m not her boss.”
Someone in the transportation department eventually told Doe’s parents that the bus driver had been informed that she could no longer talk about religion or sexuality with students.
District spokesman Keith Bromery insisted to The Times-Picayune that a “reprimand and counseling, and having this in her personnel file was all that this should entail, and thats what happened.”
The ACLU, however, said that the district needed to do more by educating all school staff about The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and Title IX’s rules against discrimination. The civil rights advocates also advised schools to have a procedure allowing staff to respond to harassment complaints, and to provide counseling to students if necessary.
“Moreover, the School Board must ensure that John and Jane Doe are not retaliated against for reporting the school bus driver’s inappropriate and harmful behavior,” the ACLU added.