Saturday, February 15, 2003

This Is Crazy

The first time the Tracys declined to allow their daughter to attend the two-hour, fundamental Christian services held over three days was in 1999, when she was in the fourth grade. The family had bought 11 acres in Union County because they thought the area was beautiful.

"The principal had called me to the office because mine was the only slip that said no," said India, now 14. "He asked me why I didn't want to go. He asked my religion. I told him I didn't want to talk about it and for him to call my parents."

India was the only student left in her class during the Area Wide Crusade in April 1999, so her classmates knew she hadn't gone. The crusade was begun in 1998 by a Union County Baptist pastor and is planned for this April as well.

Between 1999 and February 2002 when her parents removed her from Horace Maynard Middle School, the lawsuit alleges:

n That India was repeatedly called "Satan worshipper," "witch" and other derogatory names. She was accused of eating babies and of being a lesbian because she wasn't a Christian, the lawsuit said.

n That India was forced to attend regular Bible study classes during the school day, and urged to lead the school and her class in prayer.

n That derogatory names were written on her locker in permanent ink and the school refused to paint over the graffiti or move her locker.

n That India was repeatedly attacked as she knelt in front of her bottom-row locker. Her head was bashed at least 10 times, cutting her lip, above her eyes and bloodying her nose.

n That a teacher told India to "keep quiet because you'll get in trouble" after she wrote a paper about religious freedom.

n That a bus driver regularly asked India in front of other students if she had gone to church yet and if she'd like to come to church.