Facebook | Tina Helsinger

High Schooler Suspended After Posting Bible Verses In Response To Pride Flags

Schools need to walk a fine line when it comes to their rules and how they are enforced.

They need to allow for student self-expression, while navigating the minefield of discrimination, privilege, gender, and the separation of church and state.

It's a balance that's easy to get wrong and we often hear about school's that fall off that tightrope.

Unsplash | NeONBRAND

I feel like the most common issue we hear about is kids coming forward to complain about double-standards being applied via dress codes.

But in the case of Ohio high schooler Gabby Helsinger, it was a clash between religion and LGBTQIA+ rights that got her into hot water.

Facebook | Tina Helsinger

The incident came to light when Gabby filmed a video about it to share on her mom, Tina Helsinger's Facebook page.

In the video, Gabby tells her side of the story.

Facebook | Tina Helsinger

It's pretty clear what her mom thinks of the situation, since the post begins with "Lebanon schools celebrates evil and punishes righteousness!!" before giving out the contact details of the Principal and Assistant Principal for people to "flood" with their opinions.

Gabby explains that when she arrived at school one morning, there were Pride flags and posters up around the halls.

Unsplash | Tyler Nix

She explained, “I felt the need to write down some Bible verses so I could put them around my school. And I wrote them down and I put them around the lockers, the walls."

After lunch, she saw teachers taking down her verses.

Unsplash | Ava Dickson

The next day, she was called to the office, where she was informed that she had been given a one day In-School Suspension (ISS) for the act.

The reason given was that it was ‘abuse of others, disrespect, rudeness’ and that she was targeting the Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSA) with the verses.

Gabby says she didn't even know what the GSA was at the time.

Facebook | Tina Helsinger

She wasn't targeting the organization, rather, she had "seen that there [were] people in my school that needed help… They don’t need to be living in the confusion of wondering if they should be gay, bi, lesbian, trans — anything like that. And I know that God is the only way that they can be healed by that, and that’s why I did it. "

Sigh. Once more for those in the back: Sexual orientation is not a choice.

When asked why she decided to put the posters up, she told her principle that she “wanted to spread the word of God.”

To be fair, spreading the word of God in a public school technically goes against the idea of state being separate from the Church.

The Principal also said that she didn't have permission to put posters up in the school.

Unsplash | Feliphe Schiarolli

Presumably, the GSA did have permission to put the Pride stuff up, which is why they thought she had targeted the organization directly.

Gabby also asked him why when anything related to Jesus or God gets brought up at school, it gets taken down straight away.

Unsplash | Aaron Burden

She explained that on the school’s video announcements, there is an LGBTQIA+ presence, but no Christian presence at all. Gabby claims that she wasn’t targeting any organization, and that she just wanted to put up her posters and increase Christian visibility.

Unfortunately, the principle still felt that she was targeting the GSA.

The school hasn't commented, save to say that violations of the Student Code of Conduct have consequences.

They aren't legally allowed to say any more than that. Gabby is expected to report for her ISS, regardless of her complaints.

While I don't think she targeted the GSA specifically, she does admit that the bible verses were meant for LGBTQIA+ students.

Unsplash | Peter Hershey

Between that and the lack of permission to put up posters, a single day seems like an okay punishment.

h/t: The Hill