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Principal ousted after LGBTQ students punished with Bible study, threatened with hell

Liv Funk, left, and Hailey Smith first complained to the State of Oregon about the climate of discrimination they faced as gay students in 2016.
Liv Funk, left, and Hailey Smith first complained to the State of Oregon about the climate of discrimination they faced as gay students in 2016.

The principal of a rural Oregon high school who forced an LGBTQ student to read Bible passages as a form of punishment will step down as part of a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Bill Lucero first denied the claim from former North Bend High School student Hailey Smith that he made another LGBTQ student read from the Bible as a form of punishment, the Coos Bay World reported.

But after an investigation from the Oregon Department of Education and pressure from the ACLU of Oregon, he reversed course and now must step down. The department of education found that the school district probably infringed on the rights of Smith and current student Liv Funk, according to the Oregonian.

The Willamette University College of Law first took on the girls' case. Professor H. Warren Binford said she then asked the ACLU for help after calling the treatment the girls faced at North Bend one of the worst cases of discrimination at a school that she's seen in Oregon.

According to the settlement, Jason Griggs, a school resource officer — who reportedly told Funk she would go to hell for being gay — will also be asked to step down.

Funk alleges she went to Griggs after being called slurs by other students, and at least three instances of physical intimidation, including one where Lucero's son nearly hit her with his car in the school parking lot.

YouTube celebrity and LGBTQ activist Tyler Oakley speaks a town hall meeting in Cheney, Kansas in May to support local gay high school senior Aaron Mounts and his efforts to lessen homophobia in his rural community. (May 10, 2018)

"[Griggs] said that if I'm going to be an open member of the LGBT community that I should prepare for things like this," Funk wrote. "The officer said that being gay was a choice, and it was against his religion. He said that he had homosexual friends, but because I was an open homosexual, I was going to hell."

Funk and Smith did not ask for financial damages in the settlement. Instead, the school district will pay $1,000 to a local queer advocacy group, the ACLU said in a news release.

"This is a tremendous achievement for our clients and all the current and future students of North Bend," Mat dos Santos, the ACLU of Oregon's legal director, told The Associated Press. "It sends a clear message to everyone at the district: If you break the law by discriminating against LGBTQ students or engaging in religious proselytization at school, there are serious consequences."

Oregon is generally considered a liberal state, and its governor is openly bisexual, but Funk and Smith's discrimination case show that even in those conditions, inequalities still persist in pockets. North Bend is a town of about 10,000, located 175 miles southwest of Portland.

Lucero must be out of his current position by the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, but he may be reassigned to a new position within the district.

Smith and Funk first complained to the state of Oregon about the climate of discrimination they faced as gay students in 2016. Smith graduated in 2017, and Funk graduates this year.

Jorden Blosser is graduating from Pass Christian High. He's the first out transgender student to do so. His journey was difficult at times, but he's graduating with honors and a full ride to a prestigious private college in Kentucky.

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