A former student at a high school in Southern California recently filed a lawsuit against the school district after he had been suspended for sharing his faith.
About a year ago, Kenneth Dominguez, 16, was disciplined by Gateway East High School in San Diego County and was prevented from bringing his Bible to campus.
The lawsuit was filed after the Grossmont Union High School District refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing, according to Brad Dacus, president and founder of Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing Dominguez.
Dominguez is a new believer. He surrendered his life to the Lord during Christmas break in the 2009-2010 school year.
When he returned to school in January, he began to tell his peers about his Christian faith.
He was "on fire" and "excited about his faith," sharing "what happened to him and what God had done," Dacus explained to The Christian Post.
But his grace sharing period came to a halt when an administrator reprimanded him. The school official told Dominguez that he was not allowed to share his faith because of the "separation of church and state."
According to Dacus, Dominguez had not created any disruption when he was testifying about his faith to fellow students. He didn't shout or preach out loud and he limited his talk to lunch breaks and the hallways, and not the classroom.
Additionally, there has been no record of any student or anyone else complaining, Dacus noted.
After being warned by the administrator, Dominguez continued to discuss his faith and bring his Bible to school. He was then told that he could not bring his Bible to campus either. A two-day suspension soon followed.
Defending the student, attorney Michael J. Peffer, who heads PJI's Southern California office, contended, "No student should be forced to leave his faith and Bible at the gate when he enters school grounds. We are looking forward to this opportunity to vindicate Mr. Dominguez and protect students throughout California."
The incident doesn't come as a surprise to PJI attorneys. Among the 4,000 requests for legal assistance received last year alone, Dacus said many of them dealt with public school religious freedom issues.
"Particularly in a state like California where the teachers union has such great control over what goes on in public schools, we see a lot of hostility and bigotry against Christian students, sometimes under the cloak of 'tolerance,'" he lamented.
Catherine Martin, spokeswoman for the Grossmont Union High School District, was unable to comment because of pending litigation.
[UPDATE] 3-31 7:12 p.m.
The Grossmont Union High School District released a statement today in response to the lawsuit:
The Grossmont Union High School District Governing Board and Administration fully supports and defends the Constitution of the United States, particularly the First Amendment provisions protecting the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. It is also the firm commitment of the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) to provide a safe and orderly learning environment for all students and staff that is free of disruption to the educational process on each of its campuses.