Wednesday, June 13, 2007

School District Learns That Religious Discrimination In Sports Is Out-Of-Bounds

Buckner, KY - On Monday, the North Oldham County School District reversed a decision that discriminated against junior Kim Osborne because of her religion, after receiving a demand letter from Liberty Counsel. In a letter to Superintendent Paul S. Upchurch, Liberty Counsel explained how a volleyball coach's denial of Kim's request to miss practice to attend a Christian youth event violated the First Amendment.
Kim had attempted to get approval from Coach Brian Jones in January to miss practice, a full six months before a Lutheran Church National Youth Gathering. Coach Jones he said he would speak with another coach about the situation. Believing that the coach would accommodate her request, Kim raised money for the gathering, paid for registration and purchased a plane ticket before she learned recently that if she missed practice, she would be thrown off the volleyball team.
Coach Jones told the three-year team veteran that summer practice was absolutely mandatory and refused to excuse her for the event. However, he allowed two other players to miss a week of summer practice to attend the Governor's Scholars Program, a Kentucky program to encourage future civic and economic leaders. Kim was told to choose between her place on the team or her trip to the Christian event that only takes place once every three years. Karen Osborne, Kim's mother, contacted Liberty Counsel for assistance.
Now that the school district has agreed to grant Kim the same accommodation given to her teammates who miss for nonreligious reasons, she is free to attend the Christian event without losing her place on the volleyball team.
Students do not have to choose between their faith and participation in sports. If a school can accommodate students who need to attend secular events, then failure to accommodate attendance at religious events is unconstitutional.