Christian students on the front lines in the cultural war over chastity can take heart in the experience of Marcail McBride.
Miss McBride is a student at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). It is a state-run boarding school that draws students from all over Illinois.
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Like most schools, IMSA pays lip service to the idea of diversity and inclusion. The statement of its “Chief Equity Officer” is right out of the Critical Race Theory playbook.
“Creating an equity-focused culture that solicits and values the talents and contributions of all people and that celebrates diversity across identity and circumstances requires that we examine ourselves through an equity lens that seeks to expose and eliminate both the known and ‘hidden in plain sight,’ structural inequities that persist in all institutions, including ours. It is not lofty platitudes on a wall. It is action – because action is the only thing that will lead to meaningful change and a lasting impact.” (Emphasis added.)
As many students discover, Miss McBride found that schools do not “celebrate diversity” with those who espouse traditional values. The school’s policies do not include those who wish to protect their virtue.
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IMSA shares a radical sex education agenda with many American schools, both private and public. At the core of this agenda is the deliberate desensitization of young people in matters of physical intimacy. IMSA’s “Student Gender and Sexuality” Program requires students to “stay engaged,” to “experience discomfort” and become an “ally” of the oppressed.
Perhaps the administrators of this state-run school should consider Illinois State Statutes. Chapter 105, §-9.1.c.2. states, “Course material and instruction shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.”
The timeline of the conflict between IMSA and Miss McBride is simple. According to the letter sent by the McBrides’ lawyer to the school, “In November, the McBrides communicated in writing to IMSA leadership that Marcail could not participate in the Student Gender and Sexuality Program because the program forces Marcail to participate in activities and discussions regarding human sexuality that require, pressure, or coerce her to violate her religious principles.”
Such a written request should have ended the forced participation of Marcail in the program. Another part of Chapter 105, §-9.1 spells out her rights succinctly, “No pupil shall be required to take or participate in any class or course in comprehensive sex education if his parent or guardian submits written objection thereto, and refusal to take or participate in such course or program shall not be reason for suspension or expulsion of such pupil.”
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Unfortunately, IMSA followed the all-too-common practice of placing its judgment over parents or state legislators. On January 27, school officials sent Miss McBride an e-mail saying that Marcail needed to complete the course by January 30, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. or face disciplinary action. She did not comply. On February 1, the Associate Director of Student Affairs, Dana Ginnett, informed Miss McBride that she would face a formal disciplinary hearing.
The McBrides reached out to First Liberty Institute, a law firm specializing in religious liberty cases. On February 2, 2021, the ISMA president, Dr. José M. Torres, received a letter from First Liberty that spelled out the law mentioned above.
Suddenly, the vexing problem that troubled the McBrides since November was solved. On February 5, CBNreported that “the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy … has reversed its position and approved senior Marcail McBride’s request for a religious accommodation.”
The lesson to concerned parents is clear. Students need not sit passively while leftists attempt to assault their beliefs. Many states have passed laws that resemble the Illinois statute and can thus be applied when faced with imposed programs.
Additionally, in 1993, the National Congress passed “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” It “Prohibits any agency, department, or official of the United States or any State (the government) from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except that the government may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) furthers a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
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The law’s sponsor was current Senate Majority Leader, Charles Schumer – whose liberal record is long-standing.
The federal law is not as specific as the Illinois Statute. However, it is the law. It would take a more-than-normally brave school administrator to involve the school in a case involving Federal Law.
Marcail McBride’s victory should cheer all those who insist that schools respect their children’s rights to remain innocent. Parents facing similar situations should echo John Paul Jones’s words, “I have not yet begun to fight!”