FFRF guarantees equal rights for lesbian students in Hawai’i (Jan. 16, 2013)

Students who identify as gay or lesbian will no longer be victims of harassment and bullying fueled by religion, thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Two female high school students were reprimanded by their bus driver for cuddling, kissing and showing other public displays of affection while riding the school bus to Pearl City High School in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

The two students were bullied on two separate occasions in December. During the first incident, the bus driver pulled the bus over and approached the two girls. The driver asked if they were both female and then told them to separate because the driver is Christian and did not approve of their behavior.

The incident repeated itself days later when the same driver yelled at the same two girls when one leaned her head on the other’s shoulder. The driver reiterated she is Christian and does not allow behavior like that on the bus.

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel contacted Hawai’i State Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi in a Dec. 11, 2012 letter. Seidel asked her to conduct an immediate investigation of the incident, because, if founded, it violates several anti-discrimination laws, along with the separation of church and state.

“The bus driver’s behavior creates a hostile and intimidating environment for GLBT students and non-Christian students who now know that their driver demands conformity with [the bus driver’s] particular sect,” Seidel wrote. “This behavior is nothing short of bullying.”

Director of Student Transportation Services James Kauhi responded to FFRF in a Jan. 16, 2013 letter, assuring that an investigation of the incident has been launched and the bus driver has been removed from bus driving duties.

Freedom From Religion Foundation