June 4th, 2008 17:44 EST
Christians Not Welcome in American Schools
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, A Minnesota high school is going on trial after it forbade one of its students to wear anti-abortion t-shirts.
Jeanne Ibbitson, whose 12-year-old son attends one of the Hutchinson schools, claims that he has been singled out by school authorities for his views. For over a month K.B. was forced to either change his anti-abortion shirts or wear them turned around as his teachers found them unacceptable in a religion-free institution.
The school replies that its "Student Dress and Appearance Policy" states clearly what clothes are appropriate during classes. According to the authorities of Hutchinson Middle School, t-shirts with printed inscriptions such as "Abortion-Growing, Growing, Gone" and "What part of abortion don`t you understand?" fall under the paragraph than bans wearing clothing which "bears a message which is lewd, vulgar or obscene."
But Ibbitson insists that her son`s freedoms, guaranteed by the first amendment, were abused. "The point is the teachers didn`t like it, so they squashed his right to wear them," she told a local newspaper. She said that K.B. had faced days of unexplained harassment as the school authorities ridiculed him in front of his classmates and he had been called to the principal`s office on a number of occasions.
Ibbitson has found support in the Thomas Moore Law Center, a non profit organization that defends the religious freedom of Christians. Its president Richard Thompson said that : "These school officials clearly violated the U.S. Constitution and the school`s own written Dress Policy which specifically states that it is not intended to abridge the rights of students to express political and religious messages."
Not everyone, however, agrees that Ibbitson is right. For some people from her hometown, her actions cannot be justified as a 12-year-old child is hardly capable of understanding what abortion really means. "It`s appalling to me that a parent would have her son wear a t-shirt proclaiming her views to school. Shame on her and her `Christian` beliefs," one woman commented on an online forum.
Part of the controversy over Ibbitson`s lawsuit is her financial demands. K.B.`s mother says that due to his religious views, her son was not only unable to wear the clothes he wanted, but also underwent weeks of mental abuse from the school authorities. "It was hard for him to get up every day and put the t-shirt on and go to school to try and carry on his mission for the month," she claimed. But for some people she simply wants to drain the school of millions of dollars.
Ibbitson, a single mother of three, spars the accusation. She says that the lawsuit is a very personal thing and money has nothing to do with it. At 25, Ibbitson had an abortion herself, a dreadful experience that left her depressed and on the verge of suicide. "It was horrible," she wrote in one of her many online posts. Since then, warning women against abortion has become her life mission - the mission that is now shared by her children.
"I`ve been called mean, harsh, overbearing, etc., but that`s ok," wrote Ibbitson. "I have kids that excel in life."
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