An Ohio high school girl was suspended for posting verses from the Bible around her school, reacting to gay pride flags hung up by students from an LGBTQ group.
Gabby Helsinger says she was taken out of class and issued ISS (in-school suspension) for her actions. According to a document from the administration, Helsinger was accused of "targeting" the school's Gay-Straight Alliance and exhibiting "abuse of others, disrespect, [and] rudeness" for merely posting the Bible versus.
After the incident, the teenager took to Facebook to explain why she felt the need to post the verses in the first place and why the school's punishment of her is unjust. The video, which was posted to Tina Helsinger's (Gabby's mother) Facebook page, has racked up nearly 80,000 views since it was posted last week.
"So, on Thursday when I got to school, I see that there were pride flags, posters around my school," said Gabby. "And 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. And I was coming back from lunch, because I got sent back to lunch, and I [saw] the teachers taking them down."
"The next day, I got called to the office and there is a letter that says that I have an ISS, which is an in-school suspension, and the reason why I have it is because 'abuse of others, disrespect, rudeness' because I put Bible verses up 'targeting the 'GSA' (Gay-Straight Alliance] organization," she continued.
Gabby said she felt compelled to post the versus because "God is the only way" and those struggling with identity or sexuality "can be healed."
"Seeing 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," she said, emphasizing that she was in no way maliciously "targeting" the LGBTQ group.
Gabby said she told her principal that she wanted to "spread the word of God" when pressed about posting the messages and noted that others post things around the school all the time without permission.
"I said, 'Because I wanted to spread the word of God,'" she explained. "And then he goes, 'Well, did you have permission?' And I said, 'No.' I didn't know you had to have permission because people do it a lot — putting Post-It notes on people's lockers, so I just did it."
"I asked him why every time Jesus or God or anything like that gets brought up in school, it gets taken down straight away," she added. "But we can put gay and pride stuff all over the school, and not have to take it down, and people can talk about it. But when you talk about God or Jesus, you just get put down and you're not allowed to talk about it."
A caption to the Facebook video says that Lebanon High School "celebrates evil and punishes righteousness!!"
"Parents - if this was happening to your child - what would you do?" the caption on Tina's post continues.
The girl's mother added that she has appealed the punishment: "I appealed the punishment stating 'Posting a Bible verse is not abuse of others, disrespect/insolence/rudeness and in no way was it targeting GSA' but the school principal, Scott Butler, says 'Gabby was targeting the GSA organization' and therefore must report to ISS Wednesday 3/13/19."
The post, which is signed by "Tina and Gabby," adds a Bible verse from the book of Mark: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Faithwire reported that Lebanon City School Superintendent Todd Yohey said that though he was not permitted to discuss specifics, "Yohey confirmed that the school’s Student Code of Conduct does not prohibit the sharing or posting of religious text or imagery on school grounds. He also confirmed that like the GSA, religious clubs are allowed to meet and advertise during school hours."
"The question that remains, then, is why Gabby received the suspension to begin with," asked Faithwire's Carly Hoilman. "If the student’s testimony stands, and she was not 'targeting the GSA organization' as Principal Scott Butler allegedly claimed, then it appears her only offense was not receiving prior approval to post the verses, which is a far cry from the accusations of 'abuse' toward other students."