LEBANON, OH (FOX19) - A controversy between a Tri-State student and her school made national news Wednesday.
Fox News published an article claiming Lebanon High School student suspended a student who says she “wanted to spread the word of God around school.” The school says that is not true and the student was disciplined for breaking school rules.
Fox News identified the Lebanon student as Gabby Helsinger.
In a video interview with Fox News, Helsinger claimed she was being punished for targeting the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club.
“Seeing that there (were) people in my school that needed help,” said Helsinger to Fox News. “They don’t need to be living in the confusion of wondering if they should be gay, bi, lesbian, trans -- anything like that. And I know that God is the only way that they can be healed by that, and that’s why I did it.”
Helsinger told Fox News she began posting the verses when she saw pride flags hanging in the school.
“On Thursday when I got to school, I see that there were pride flags, posters around my school,” Helsinger told Fox News. “And I felt the need to write down some Bible verses so I could put them around my school. And I wrote them down and I put them around the lockers, the walls.”
The national outlet said Helsinger claims she noticed the school taking her Bible verses down after lunch and she was then called to the principals office.
“The next day, I got called to the office and there is a letter that says that I have an ISS, which is an in-school suspension, and the reason why I have it is because ‘abuse of others, disrespect, rudeness’ because I put Bible verses up ‘targeting the GSA organization,’” she explained to Fox News in the video. “I did not know what the GSA organization was or meant.”
Helsinger claimed that she was not targeting any organization by posting Bible verses around the school but did appear to admit her disagreement with LGBT groups by claiming they needed to be “healed” by her religion.
Fox News also said she claimed the school’s principal asked her why she posted the verses to which she said she responded “to spread the word of Go.”
Helsinger claimed the principal asked her if she had permission to post the verses on lockers and on the school’s walls and she said she told them she didn’t have permission because she didn’t know she had to have it. She claimed students often posted notes on other students’ lockers.
School officials answered an email to Lebanon High School principal Scott Butler Thursday morning.
They say the story that’s circulating is misleading and said they conducted a thorough investigation of the incident and disciplined Helsinger for a violation of their student code.
“We are aware of misleading information in the public domain. We are not permitted to discuss the discipline of an individual student. However, I can share that we did not discipline a student for posting scripture and we did not discipline a student for religious beliefs. We did discipline a student following a thorough investigation that revealed clear evidence of a violation of our Student Code of Conduct. Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) is a national organization with an approved student chapter at our high school. In addition, we also have student chapters of Christian organizations. All are permitted to post approved announcements and fliers at school.”
Lebanon High School Principal, Scott Butler.
Fox News says Helsinger’s mother took to Facebook to air her anger with the school over what she says is her daughter being unfairly punished for sharing her beliefs.
According to Fox News, Helsinger’s mother posted a video of her daughter addressing the controversy on Facebook.
“Lebanon schools celebrates evil and punishes righteousness!!” Fox News says the mother posted, adding that she appealed the punishment. “Posting a Bible verse is not abuse of others, disrespect/insolence/rudeness and in no way was it targeting GSA.”
Fox News said they reached out to the Lebanon City School superintendent who told them the school’s code of conduct does not prohibit sharing or posting religious text or imagery at school.
The outlet also said the official told them religious clubs, including the GSA, are allowed to advertise during school hours.