NORTH RICHLAND HILLS(CBSDFW.COM) – A former student is suing Birdville Schools over prayer at school board meetings.
20-year-old Isaiah Smith keeps a binder of records holding more than a dozen complaints filed over two years at Birdville High School.
Smith claims students threw baseballs at him, used gay slurs and told him to kill himself. Some argued he couldn’t be gay and Christian.
“I have been treated awful growing up,” says Smith. “I started being vocal about my rights because I got tired of being discriminated against.”
A year out of school, Smith’s lawsuit targets what he considers religious discrimination, the prayers at the start of every school board meeting.
“They openly endorse Christianity over other religions and over non-religion,” says Smith.
Birdville ISD declined to respond, saying it has not been officially served with a lawsuit.
But Hiram Sasser from the Liberty Institute has argued in favor of school prayer before.
“Governments are allowed to open their meetings with prayer,” says Sasser. “We’ve been doing it for 200 years and the United States Supreme Court has said on two different occasions it’s perfectly legal.”
The most recent ruling found prayer permissible as long as it doesn’t “denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities…”
Smith’s lawsuit contends Birdville’s school board did just that… by hand-picking young students to deliver solely Christian invocations.
It made me feel left out. It also made me feel uncomfortable,” says Smith.
Smith says he’s already received hate mail in response to the suit, but he doesn’t plan to drop the lawsuit.
He says he is not against prayer but he believes in separation of church and state and claims that’s what his lawsuit is meant to achieve.
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