Fort Worth Student Disciplined for Saying Homosexuality Is Wrong

Student's mother says freshman should not be punished for stating his belief

The mother of a Fort Worth student said she unhappy her son was given in-school suspension for making a comment in class about homosexuality and Christianity.

During a discussion in his German class at Western hills High School on Tuesday, freshman Dakota Ary said he commented to a friend that his religious beliefs say homosexuality is wrong.

"I said, 'I'm Christian and, to me, being homosexual is wrong,'" Ary said. "And then he (the teacher) got mad, wrote me an infraction and sent me to the office."

Religions, the Bible and religious views in Germany had come up in the class. According to the discipline referral form filled out by the teacher, the teacher was telling students how to say religion and Christianity. Ary asked about a question about Bibles in different countries and what language they are in.

On the referral form, Ary is quoted as saying "no gays allowed in Christianity." The form says the comment was unprovoked and out of context. The final sentence of the explanation on the referral reads, "It is wrong to make such a statement in public school."

But Ary's mother, Holly Pope, and attorney Matt Krause of the Liberty Counsel disagree. They said the referral, the two-day suspension and the teacher's statement are wrong.

"Just because you walk through the school house doors doesn't mean you shed your First Amendment rights," Krause said. "And he wasn't disrupting class, he wasn't hurting or harassing anybody. He was just stating his religious beliefs in a benign, non-hostile way."

Krause and Pope met with school administrators Wednesday morning about the referral and in-school suspension. The school reduced the punishment to just one day, which served Tuesday, but Pope said the school will keep Ary from his German class for at least the rest of the week so he is not retaliated against.

The standard referral form asks whether the incident is of a bullying or cyber-bullying nature. Instead of answering yes or no, a handwritten "possibly" is nearby. Pope said that notion is just wrong.

"This is unnecessary. It's uncalled for," she said. "Anybody that knows Dakota knows that he's a good kid. He's very respectful. And I do believe it (the comment) was taken way out of hand."

The family said Ary was just stating his belief and should not be punished. The school and district cannot comment on what happened, as per district policy.

"As matter of course, Fort Worth ISD does not comment on specific employee- or student-related issues," the statement said. "Suffice it to say that we are following district policy in our review of the circumstance and any resolution will like wise be in accordance with district policy."

Ary returned to class Wednesday after serving his in-school suspension on Tuesday. He said he didn't mean to offend anyone.

"I didn't say it to be rude to anyone," Ary said. "I said it like how I believe about it."

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