FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A Fort Worth high school student says he was suspended from school for expressing his Christian beliefs in class. His teacher, however, saw it differently, labeling the student’s comments about homosexuality as bullying.
“It really took me by surprise because Dakota doesn’t get in trouble,” said the student’s mother, Holly Pope.
The disciplinary referral given to Dakota Ary called his comments a “possible instance of bullying.” It wasn’t anything the freshman honor student physically did in his second period class, but what he said.
The comment came during a German class, where conversation turned to vocabulary for Christianity and the Bible. Dakota said one student asked about translations for homosexual terms.
“I said, ‘I’m a Christian, and I don’t think being gay is right,’” he said. “If the same situation comes up, just different scenario, I think I’d do the same thing.”
His decision to speak out earned him a full day of in-school suspension, and he was banned from campus for two more days. His mother was floored, she said.
“I kind of rethought our conversation and realized, no, he shouldn’t be punished at all,” Pope said.
Dakota was back at school Wednesday, after his mother got a constitutional attorney involved.
“I was blown away that this led to a suspension,” said Matthew Krause with Libery Counsel, a nonprofit law firm. “Once we got into it and found out that’s the only thing he said to a classmate, we knew pretty quick there had been a violation of his constitutional right to free speech.”
Fort Worth ISD would not comment, other than a statement saying, “Suffice it to say, we are following policy in our review of the circumstances and any resolution will be in accordance with district policy.” Krause said the teacher opened the door to the topic and the student’s statement.
After initially reducing the suspension to just one day, administrators dropped it completely on Wednesday.
“I just think this was an opinion of this teacher and they backed him up and I don’t think they should have,” Pope said.