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Oregon School District Accused of Discrimination Against LGBT Students

North Bend

North Bend school officials are accused of, among other things, forced Bible readings and failure to address homophobic bullying.

Officials at a school district in Oregon are being accused of a series of anti-LGBT actions, including forcing LGBT students to read the Bible and subjecting them to homophobic comments, with one teacher likening same-sex marriage to bestiality.

The Oregon Department of Education detailed the allegations in a letter to school officials in North Bend in March, and the school district, which disputes them, will offer a defense at a hearing May 24, CNN reports.

"There is substantial evidence to support the allegation that the district subjected LGBTQ students to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment," the letter said. These actions would violate Oregon's LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination law. "The department finds that discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred," the letter continued.

Among the allegations are that "a student was required by the superintendent to read a passage from the Bible as punishment on at least two occasions," CNN reports. In another, a teacher commented during a classroom discussion, "If same sex marriage is OK, what about marrying your dog? It's about the same thing."

Also, a student complained to a school resource officer that another student struck her hand with a skateboard while making homophobic remarks. The resource officer treated the incident as minor and told her that homosexuality was a choice, according to the letter.

It's further alleged that after a student yelled "faggot" at two boys who were holding hands in the school parking lot and drove very near them, the district failed to properly investigate the incident, reports Oregon newspaper The World. And a guidance counselor who advocated for students who had suffered homophobic abuse eventually lost his job, the letter states.

Officials with the state education department met with North Bend administrators for nine hours in April in an attempt to address the complaints and reach an agreement on how the district should treat such matters, The World reports. But the parties remained at an impasse, setting up the May 24 hearing to determine if the district violated state and federal antidiscrimination laws.

North Bend school officials said some of the complaints were not brought to their attention. "The district disputes many of ODE's preliminary findings and will present evidence to rebut the findings at at the May 24, 2018, hearing," said a statement the district issued to The World. "The district works very hard every day to make sure all students feel respected and safe at school and will continue these efforts regardless of the outcome of this hearing."

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