Stop discriminating against 11-year-old Pagan student
  • Petitioned Carroll County Board of Education

This petition was delivered to:

Carroll County Board of Education
Superintendent, Carroll County Schools
Scott K. Cowart
Fifth Grade Teacher, Bowdon Elementary School
Connie Ross
Principal, Bowdon Elementary School
Rebecca Waldrep
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Carroll County Schools
David Goldberg

Stop discriminating against 11-year-old Pagan student

    1. Christine Salek
    2. Petition by

      Christine Salek

      Des Moines, IA

Christopher Turner is an 11-year-old student from Bowden, Georgia. As October came to a close, the Turner family was preparing for Samhain, a Pagan holiday of giving thanks and remembering the lives of their ancestors.

Samhain fell on Monday, October 31, 2011. Just as with any religious holiday, Christopher did not attend school. When he returned on Tuesday morning his teacher, Connie Ross, took him out of class and proceeded to harass him about Paganism, ending this conversation with, "Paganism is not a religion."

Upon hearing this news, Christopher's mother, a single mother of three, immediately contacted the Carroll County Board of Education and spoke to David Goldberg, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. Goldberg apologized, assuring her that her son did indeed have the right to freedom of religion and promising he would set up a meeting between all three of her children's teachers and their principal. However, Ms. Turner was not to attend these meetings.

When Christopher returned to school following his mother's complaints to the school board, his teacher had another surprise for him. She assigned an essay to the class about "How Christmas started," informing the class that they were not to include anything in their papers about Paganism. When a student in Christopher's class asked what Paganism was, Ross replied, "Anything that is non-Biblical is Paganism."

As if this wasn't bad enough, Christopher's nightmare continued outside of school walls. On the bus ride home one day, Christopher, who is part Hispanic, was speaking Spanish with other Spanish speaking students. His bus driver, David Ayers, told him he could not speak Spanish on the bus. He did not address any of the other children.

Christopher was kicked off the bus and received two days of in-school suspension. When Ayers spoke to Ms. Turner, he said that "if [Christopher] continues to speak in a language that I cannot understand, then he will get in trouble."

Not only is Christopher being drilled by his teacher about his religion, but his bus driver is also telling him what languages he can and cannot speak on the bus. He has not been to school since the latter incident and his mother's calls to Ross and Goldberg remain unanswered.

We cannot stand for this infringement of basic human rights. This family deserves to live free of the completely unfounded discrimination and harassment they are receiving.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Petition closed indefinitely

      Christine Salek
      Petition Organizer

      Sorry, everyone. Please refer to the Facebook link below if you'd like to continued showing your support. And if you see someone on a social network posting a link to this petition, please inform them of this change.

      Thank you.

    2. Show support for the Turner family

      Christine Salek
      Petition Organizer

      Here's the link to the Facebook page I mentioned earlier.

    3. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Faith Perez CHANDLER, AZ
      • almost 3 years ago

      My own children have experienced this type of discrimination.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • W D ABINGDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • almost 3 years ago

      I find it appalling that teachers can pull aside their student and bash their religious beliefs. It doesn't matter what you or your students believe. Respect goes both ways and the teachers at his school need to learn that.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Thomas Gardner CHICAGO, IL
      • almost 3 years ago

      This is a despicable example of how people in power can abuse it and hurt those that do not share their point of view. It is immoral, unethical and unamerican. I refuse to sit idly by watching this happen. This deserves a reaction of the harshest sort and should be done so swiftly so the perpetrators of such a heinous act understand that this is unacceptable.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Amber Austin HEPHZIBAH, GA
      • almost 3 years ago

      No one should live in fear of harassment based on their religion.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
      • almost 3 years ago

      I dont like signing these things because I am not fully comfortable putting my name on a document of which I am not fully aware of the consequences, especially when I haven't heard both sides of the story. But I am doing this on principle. I practice a religion that is not Christianity. Although my beliefs also do not agree with Paganism, I must say that as an American we must adhere to our constitution that grants freedom of religion. Even though I personally believe that choosing Paganism is not the correct choice, who cares what I believe? No one's got to listen to me if they don't want to (except my children, lol) Its that freedom that allows me to freely practice my own beliefs. MLK said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." So if they start to attack pagan beliefs today, and I stand by and watch, and I say, "who cares, I agree Paganism is wrong anyway." Then tomorrow they may come and attack my beliefs. Who will stand up for me then?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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