Christian School Kicks Out Disabled Student for Needing a Service Dog

There are so many examples of Christians behaving badly that they barely register anymore, but this one is pretty damn cruel.

Anika Bjornson, a fifth-grade student in Tualatin, Oregon, has a severe case of juvenile diabetes. It’s so severe that she has to bring a trained service dog with her to school so it can (amazingly, to me) let her know when her blood sugar is too high or low and she can take steps to correct it.

In a public school, that wouldn’t be a problem.

The Americans with Disabilities Act says that certified service animals are allowed to go anywhere the public is allowed to go, and that includes public schools.

The problem for Anika is that she attends Horizon Christian Elementary and they want nothing to do with her dog:

Bjornson says school administrators worried other kids might suffer from pet allergies, classmates would be too distracted by the dog, or Bassie would simply make a mess in the school building.

Speaking off camera, a school representative said the school is sorry, but they are doing what’s best for other students.

They’re allowed to do this, because it’s a religious school not bound by federal laws. But that doesn’t mean they should. Public schools make this accommodation because it’s in the best interest of the student who needs the help, and they’ll also make any accommodations for students who can’t be near the dog. It may be a logistical nightmare, but it’s the right thing to do for everyone involved. You would think a private Christian school would try to do even more than that — if for no other reason than to show the public how much they care about all of their students.

That’s not happening, though. The one time Anika needs support from her community the most, the school administrators just run away from her problem. It speaks volumes about their character.

By the way, Horizon Christian School boasts this on the front page of its website:

I fixed it for them:

Anika will be transferring to a public school now. While my heart goes out to her for having to change schools mid-year, she’s going to be in a better place — and not just because of the dog situation. She’ll be at a school where education is prioritized over “being right with God.” She’s already receiving a warm reception:

“The teacher requested me,” she said. “He wanted me in his class because he loves animals.”

It’s good to see she’s being welcomed with the type of love she didn’t find in the Christian school.

(Thanks to @marissa_rae for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Glasofruix

    That picture looks like it’s from a gay porn or something, i mean four dudes starring at their dicks in a circle. There are less explicit pictures those christians label as gay and they chose THAT one?

  • newavocation

    Our poor Xian school is just following scripture. Dogs don’t go to heaven either. 

  • JohnnieCanuck

    I’m going to speculate that what you are looking at is a Baptism. The guy with his mouth open is the Pastor and the others with their heads down are praying and are about to get dunked. I’ve seen it done before and the hand on the arm is because he is about to pull him back and down and under the water.

    The words spoken are magical and along with the sympathetic magic of the cleansing water, compel God to absolve the applicant of any and all past sins, original and otherwise. I’m not sure if the ocean or lake water gets turned into Holy Water while they’re at it, but it seems likely. Maybe just the water within reach of his voice as he does the cantrip. It must be a fairly weak spell because he repeats the same thing over again for each dunking.The person who selected the image probably could not imagine anyone looking at it without understanding the context.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Come on, you people are being unfair, You know that the whole school is praying that her condition improves. John 14:14

  • m6wg4bxw

    The “fixed” image needs to be fixed. It simply doesn’t follow that, because the school wouldn’t help one person with one problem, it won’t help anyone with any problem.

  • MargueriteF

    I wonder if the real reason could be they’re afraid the dog will bite someone and they’ll get sued? It could be their insurance carrier didn’t want to provide liability insurance with a dog on the premises, or something along those lines. You’d think if this were the case, they’d say so, but… well, it’s a possibility, anyway.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Despicable. The school should have welcomed her dog and made accommodations.

  • DreadCanary

    I think we might be overly judgmental on this one, guys.  Some basic research of the school reveals that 5th grade has a total of 25 students.  Total.  We aren’t talking about a Megachurch with the ability to create special rooms, or call for people to make accomodations.  We are talking about a tiny privately-funded non-profit that might simply not have the resources to work around pet allergies.

    Let’s only kick the Christians when they do something legitimately harmful rather than the exact same thing we might be forced to do running a small tight-budget non-profit.

  • Lester Ballard

    So, why is she attending the private Christian school in the first place?

  • ReadsInTrees

    The title of this post is a little skewed. They didn’t kick her out, they said that she couldn’t bring the dog to school, so she decided to transfer. Pretty much the same thing,  though.

  • A3Kr0n

     One thing I didn’t like is school officials said their might be a problem, they didn’t say there was a problem. It’s like they didn’t even want to give it a chance?

  • machintelligence

    If she was blind and needed a guide dog, do you think they would have done the same thing?

  • Helanna

    All the reasons they gave sounded really shaky. “There might be pet allergies” – but who knows, we didn’t check! “The dog might make a mess” – because of course they always hand out untrained service dogs to people. “It might be a distraction” – you know, it probably would be a small distraction for, like, a week, and then the kids would get used to it and that would stop. 

    Seriously, all the service dogs I know are the quietest, meekest, most well-trained dogs I’ve ever seen. If they have a real problem, they should come out and say it instead of hedging and making excuses. 

  • RobertoTheChi

    I was thinking the same thing when I saw that picture. The two guys on the left look like they’re jacking off and watching themselves while the one on the right is trying to stop him by grabbing his arm and the other one is just looking on in respectful glee.

  • Guesty Guest

    Or better yet, they could have done a trial period and actually found out whether their airy objections actually had some substance. Empiricism, apparently, isn’t for the meek.

  • Guesty Guest

    As a general rule, I think it best not to make excuses for people that those people are themselves unwilling to make.

  • Neil Rickert

    This school would have kicked out Jesus.  They are requiring a rigid social conformity, but Jesus was no conformist.

  • DougI

    Can’t have none of dem cripples in ur church, da BIBLE forbids it!  Not to menshun, dat dog ain’t no CHRISTIAN!

  • Troels Jakobsen

    Service dogs are not exactly known for being aggressive or poorly trained.

  • Robin Lionheart

    @1afe613441842ea47589a4e563b54cc3:disqus , from, we are talking about a church with 38 acres of property on which they’re building 60 classrooms, a chapel, art studios, computer and science labs, sports fields, and a 5,000 seat stadium. Seems like they would have enough resources to accommodate a service animal.

  • Rory

     Yeah, well that makes sense. Why actually DO anything to help the kid when you could whisper to your magical sky daddy to do something for you? It’s all the self-righteousness of helping without having to actually do anything!

  • Cecelia Baines

    I agree that we should crucify the Xtians when the issue demands it, and in this case, I do believe they need to allow the dogs. Cry me a river about a small non-profit….I work with rescue dogs (Avalanche and SAR) and they are fantastic and serve great purpose and give so much love. As for the “dog allergy” distraction, that is nothing more than a convenient excuse to cause a disruption to this poor kid.

    No, on this one, crucify these pricks.

  • Carmelita Spats

    So where is their “pro life” stance? These are the same people who would deny a woman an abortion if the fetus has Downs Syndrome or any other issue that would greatly impact EVERYONE, yet they won’t make the ACCOMMODATIONS that they expect from everyone else (taxpayers). Pro-life means more than a self-righteous, pro-natalist, position. Pro-life means that you ALLOW people with disabilities in your school and you suck it up  even if it means increasing tuition to pay for the accommodations. Christian hypocrisy…they only want the planned, privileged and perfect in their schools. Isn’t that what they tell rape victims?

  • PsiCop

    Yes, folks, once again the “religion of love” reveals its true nature.

  • Anon
  • Semipermeable

    100% agreed.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Wait, so at the same time you are complaining that the school did not accommodate this child, you support the right to have killed her in the womb because it could have effected everyone? There is liberal logic for you.

    That being said, I agree that pro life extends outside the womb, I just think it starts there too.

  • Semipermeable

    Also not all dog allergies are the same. I have an allergy to cats, but it is not triggered as long as I do not pet the cat and then touch my face, or let the cat get into my face. I can live with cats just fine as long as I keep them off my bed. I’ve even noticed that I don’t react to my roommate’s cat anymore. 

    If (and it didn’t even sound like they checked) there is a child with allergies or asthma, they could have altered the seating arrangements and requested that the service dog be groomed more frequently to reduce dander and shedding. If possible they could separate the students into different class rooms.
    All of the other reasons sounded ignorant, and sounded like the people running the school didn’t bother researching service dogs at all. A quick google search or meeting would have told them how well trained these dogs are, and their must be resources out there that help schools teach other children about service dogs. Many Americans have them and it would be good for kids to be exposed to that.

    Other posters have said that the school could have done a trial run, but it sounds like they didn’t even try to look at all their options and make any small accommodation. 

  • Brian

    I don’t think Jesus ever said anything about getting to choose who to help. He is quoted as saying to serve all. Here’s the quote from their own holy book, made by their own lord and savior: “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’” Mark 9:35 NIV. This was a chance for them to help someone in their own community and they refused. What makes you think that they really want to help anyone?

  • Isilzha

    Actually, the title is more generous than it should have been.  It would have been more accurate to say “School attempts to kill young child by denying her access to her medically necessary service animal.”

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    This is just one more of many many examples for Sean Faircloth to use in his talks where he gives lists of concrete examples where religion (and special privileges for religious institutions) causes real and obvious discrimination and other harms to children and others. 

  • Guesty Guest

    Inaccurate as well. The school isn’t (I hope) actively trying to kill the child, so it can’t well be said that they are attempting to kill her. They are merely grossly indifferent to her possible death being part of the consequences of their ruling.

  • Mysapphirestar

    Well yes but a couple of years ago one of your public schools would not allow a young woman her insulin because it was a drug and they had a zero tolerance policy on drugs.
    So don’t get too self righteous.

  • berberine

     I think they just don’t like anyone who is remotely different from them.  As an example, I work in the public schools.  The Christian school and the Catholic school in town will not take anyone that has any kind of disability.  This includes anyone that is blind, in a wheelchair, has a 504, or is in special education.

    A coworker sends his two adopted girls to the Christian school.  They first wanted to know if there was anything wrong with the girls before they would even consider taking them.

    I can’t say this is true of all private, religious schools, but it is true in my town.  I’ve seen it happen several times.

  • nakedanthropologist

    This.  This is what makes me so freaking mad that my face turns red.  I’ve had a severe, degenerative, and chronic disease since I was a kid, and I have never been treated so badly by anyone as the “good Christians” from my Christian elementary school.  Everyday I cried – I was just a kid, and both my classmates and various teachers let me know that because I was different that their loving god hated me for it, and they would and did do the same.  My heart goes out to this girl, and I’m glad she’s receiving the much more understanding, caring, and accepting community that I also received by transferring to a public school.

  • Guesty Guest

    It is a decent point so far as it goes, though I will say that tu quoque admonishments rather miss the point of a charge. Pointedly, while pointing out “you too” ought to diminish the high moral dudgeon of such a charge, it diminishes in no way whatsoever the wrongness of this school’s decision. An attempt to deflect from the matter at issue onto whether the person making the objection is “morally pure” enough to make it is pretty naughty.

    So by all means point out the errors of your opponents, but by no means expect it to diminish your own responsibility.

  • nakedanthropologist

    Yeah, I don’t think that’s the case here.  I’m visually impaired, and have had a lot of contact with service animals – seeing eye dogs, therapy dogs (many a hospital visit), and the like.  Having a service animal is covered for things like that under almost all group/organization plans.  Furthermore, service animals are highly trained to be docile and non-aggressive at all times.  Denying this girl a place in their school is akin to telling a kid in a wheelchair to get lost – because he might crash into another student.  It just doesn’t hold water. They’re wrong, and being exposed for the discriminatory hypocrites they truly are.

  • jdm8

    Got a source for that?

    Even so, if did happen, don’t you think it would be in part because of continuing Christian conservative anti-drug policy?

  • unclemike

    I wouldn’t mind being baptized by those guys, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

  • m6wg4bxw

    You missed the point I intended to make, though that may be my fault.

    The “fixed” image includes the line, “unless you really need help.” We can debate whether the included word, “really,” is meant to indicate authenticity or intensity. However, the idea expressed is that the school is willing to help except in all cases which the help is really needed. This is not consistent with a single example of the school refusing to help a single person in need. In other words, it’s broad-brush criticism.

  • trivialknot

    The dog will make a mess?   Aren’t service dogs too well-trained for that?

  • Guesty Guest

    This charge of inaccuracy is blunted somewhat by Brian’s point. Knowing that their supposed ethic of help is predicated upon a rule that does not allow them to discriminate amongst cases of need, it is legitimate to level against them that they are not living up to that ethic. Absent that knowledge, then sure, it is presumptuous to make the claim that they really don’t care about helping, but we do know because there’s a handy and publicly accessible book that they claim gives them their rules. 

    They won’t help everyone; this they have clearly demonstrated. If their claim to a duty to help people is undergirded by the demand to help without discrimination or reservation, then they have failed to live up to that ethic, and can be criticized on that basis, which is what the “corrected” poster does.

  • Bryan


    I was amazed when they said they were afraid the dog would “make a mess”. This isn’t someone’s family pet that they brought in for show & tell. This is a trained service dog (it can detect changes in blood sugar? *I* can’t even do that!). It’s not going to be chasing after cats, shitting on the carpet, and barking at school buses.

  • John

     The fact that a public school also screwed up doesn’t excuse this case, especially since the public school doesn’t claim to have divine inspiration for their rules.

    And yeah, the war on drugs is stupid.  I completely agree with you on that point.

  • John

     Empiricism?  But…but that’s SCIENCE!  We can’t have any of that godless nonsense in our schools.

  • Jon Peterson

    I think it speaks volumes about the potential for public education that her quote “The teacher requested me. He wanted me in his class because he loves animals.” Instantly made me think of my 5th grade teacher, Mr. Martin.

    While I know public education is simply awful in some places, I hardly consider myself a unique little butterfly, and I had a remarkably good experience with the entirety of my public school education (despite living in Fresno, CA for a good chunk of it).

    Aside from that though, the thing that inspired me to comment is… good on that teacher for making a little girl feel included and cared for, making the best of a situation that is damned awful.

  • Mark

    She’s lucky to be being kicked out of that mind-numbing, mythology-perpetuating institution of indoctrination.  I hope they kick more students out into the light of enlightened examination and discovery.  Hurray !!

  • Russian Alex


    (what would Republican Jesus do?)

  • m6wg4bxw

    I didn’t need this example to know that Christians don’t actually conform to the standards proposed in their holy texts. I have no problem with anyone making this criticism of Christians. I do, however, find fault with the above categorical statement based on a single example.

    For all I know, the school might have helped many people who “really need[ed]” it before choosing not to help Bjornson.

  • Octoberfurst

     You do understand the difference between a zygote and a 5th grader right?  Oh wait—no you don’t. (Sorry, I forgot that you’re an idiot. My bad.)

  • Danny

    Wow, I can’t even begin to imagine the mental gymnastics required to come to that conclusion. Pro-life means every fetus has the right to be born, but after that your SOL. This is a perfect example of that mindset.

  • RowanVT

     Because prayer will really help if she goes into a hypoglycemic coma or she starts having seizures. You know what would help? The dog, insulin, and food. But it’s so much easier to do nothing than something, I guess.

  • Guesty Guest

    Try it this way. The statement “empowered to serve” is predicated upon the quote from Mark that Brian gave. That quote predicates their pretension to the ethic of helpfulness to an inability to discriminate amongst the needy of help. But here we have a case that demonstrates that they are in at least one case incapable of following the predicating statements injunction against discriminating amongst needful cases.

    Given that breach, why would a person believe that they have any claim to the statement it supports, that they are “empowered to serve”? The going got tough once and they consequently abandoned their ethic, so isn’t it reasonable to assume that when the going gets tough in the future, they may also abandon their ethic again?

    Isn’t it incumbent upon them to show otherwise? Why are we making excuses for what they have done and discounting that evidence as valuable to evaluating their claims and predicting their future behavior? Their ethic says they should have done one thing, but they instead did another.  Why take seriously their claim to that ethic?

  • Guesty Guest

    That being said, I agree that pro life extends outside the womb, I just think it starts there too.

    Rara avis that you are. Someone, call the cryptozoologists! We’ve got a live one!

    Seriously, though, given the general behavior of people on the pro-”life” side–namely, they can’t wash their hands fast enough of duties to their already born fellow humanity–it is hard in general to take the pro-life rhetoric at all practically seriously.

  • Thackerie

     Sure. Why not? The same “justifications” proffered by the school would apply regardless of the specific condition of the person requiring the service dog.

  • Thackerie

     Maybe the christian schools in question are just too cheap to get the appropriate insurance coverages.

  • m6wg4bxw

    We’re not talking about the same issue here. You’re concerned with their behavior as Christians, and how it compares with their prescribed and professed ethics.

    My concern is that they be criticized and represented fairly. Mine is a simple objection to a broad generalization based upon a single example.  They should be criticized only for what they’ve done. No account should misrepresent the situation in the attempt to emphasize that criticism.

    If the “fixed” image read “unless you’re Anika Bjornson,” or “unless your condition requires a service dog,” then it would have been consistent with the incident. Suggesting that the school won’t help anyone who really needs it is an exaggeration.

  • the moother

    Is it just my twisted mind or do others see teenage boys comparing dick sizes in the ocean?

  • Michaelbrice

    Maybe sneezing children offend god but dying children don’t.

  • Guesty Guest

    I see your objection, but it misplaces the rhetorical intent.

    A person claims that they help everyone regardless of the vagaries of the situation. Then you point out that they didn’t help one person due to the vagaries of that situation. So you then say, why should I believe you’ll help anyone in similar need (i.e. the functional work being done by “really”)? Then the ball is in their court, and you’re essentially baiting them into saying, well, but we helped so many others! Which is the trap, because then you get to ask, why them but not this one? How can you claim to serve everyone when you discriminate amongst cases?

    You want to do the rhetorical work for them. That’s their job. It is not illegitimate to make a general claim that follows from a specific example in a debate; unlike in arid deductive logic, evidence is an important element to claims. It is, rather, incumbent upon the respondent to counter the claim with counterexamples, to provide their own evidence. In this case, the taunt is really a rhetorical trap, and one at that which is nearly impossible to avoid. You’re basically saying that it’s unfair to make demands in the form of general claims that opponents back up their own pretension to obeying the general case they originally claimed. That is a bit silly; the equivalent of tying your hands behind your back before a boxing match. Why would a person do that?

    It is, perhaps, barely possible, if one is to give up persuasive language entirely, to be utterly fair to one’s opponents at the expense of actually making a point worth responding to.  Why is it necessary to endlessly qualify what is a readily comprehensible criticism?

  • Artor

    In the context, it’s pretty obvious, and I don’t think anyone here is really mistaking that. Without the context…not so much.

  • Silo Mowbray

    “Liberal logic”?

    Is that anything like “conservative compassion”?

  • Coyotenose

     Right, you’re all for every embryo coming to term, then it can be indoctrinated in Uganda to be the sort of Christian (the typical one) who wants to imprison and execute gays and people who know gays. Congratulations on being a consistent sack of crap… at least until the chance comes up to further murderous bigotry.

  • Coyotenose

    How in the world are you keeping a straight face? I would think that typing that would even make your icon crooked.

  • Coyotenose

     Then they could have indoctrinated her to hate people for how they’re born and want to pass laws to discriminate against and even physically harm them. Like in Uganda.

    That was of course where you were going with that.

  • Chris

     “School attempts to kill young child by denying her access to her medically necessary service animal.”


    I agree that the school’s choice was callous and ignorant. But keep a firmer grip on that twitching knee, now.

  • Alexandra

    This is totally common.  My Catholic elementary school did this all the time.  One of my sister’s classmates developed a severe peanut allergy in 1st grade and they asked him to leave because it meant the other kids couldn’t have peanut butter sandwiches.

    They had a policy of not accepting students with learning disabilities, but quite often they didn’t catch them when accepting kids in kinder, so when they were discovered years later, they’d let the family know that the school doesn’t have the tools to deal with these things, therefore you should leave. 

    One of my sisters was asked to leave, and it was only through having had three kids already successfully graduate and having years of tithing and being a good Catholic family as leverage that my mom was able to keep my sister in the school, but in hindsight I think even she will admit it was a mistake.  There was always a prejudice against her, and it was a really shitty and unsupportive environment for kids who don’t learn exactly the same way as everyone else.

  • David Starner

     So when Texas nominated the Boston Strangler for an award for his service to the women of Boston*, we should consider that he probably helped a little old lady across the street? You’re known by your acts, not what you maybe could do or have done.

    In any case, we have a right to be derisive here. Their claims have been tested and found to be less then honest. In another context, perhaps you would have a point, but it’s completely clear what it’s referring to in the context of this article. We’re not using it to knock down their (hypothetical) food bank or something; we’re using it to attack this behavior.

    * True, if out of context.


    I’ve met more than a few twice born Christers whom I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw my house and, there is nothing about this incident I find surpising.  There is nothing so horrid that it cannot be, and hasn’t been, justified in the name of religion.

  • pagansister

    She now has a great example of the Christian love as shown by the Christian school she wasn’t allowed to attend because her Service dog might “make a mess in the building”.  Do they have kindergarten kids there?  Having taught that age, they make a Mess too sometimes.   However, she will not be indoctrinated 8 hours a day.  Expect her parents will teach her their faith but it won’t be as constant as being in the private school 5 days a week.

  • RobMcCune

     No, liberal logic is not a contradiction in terms

  • 3lemenope

    Nor is conservative compassion.

  • midnight rambler

     And with the words “Transformed by Love” written under them, no less.  Hmm…how exactly were they “transformed”?

  • Glasofruix

    Enough to be empowered to serve, it seems :-p

  • Kari Lynn

    There is a difference between conservative and Republican.

  • HughInAz

    If there are no dogs in heaven, I don’t want to go there.

  • Greg Gay

    The dog is highly trained. A school would lose credibility if they allowed animals that were smarter than their teachers.  He would howl with dog-laughter during the science class.

  • wmdkitty

    One thing I’m happy about, when it comes to being disabled — I escaped Catholic school. I feel like I dodged a bullet, there.

  • wmdkitty

    Oddly, I agree with you both. The moral (and ethical and legal) thing to do is to make reasonable accommodations (as required by Federal law).

    But Coyotenose has a point… she’s better off not being exposed to that poisonous bullshit.

  • Anna

    Sad situation, but I’m glad to see that she’ll be at a public school, mainly for the education, but also because it sounds like a much more welcoming environment.

  • Daniel_JM

     Please provide a reference to your story, so we can see the details. Did the public school tell her she couldn’t have access to insulin period so she had to go somewhere else for her education, or did the school just say she had to get her insulin from the nurse instead of keeping it with her? Did the school realize its mistake and fix the problem, or just brush off the whole issue like this Christian school?

    The first case would be similar to this one, where the school failed to make reasonable accommodations and the child couldn’t get an education in that envionment safely. The second case (with the insulin being with the nurse) may be a little stupid, but is nothing like this Christian school creating a hostile learning enviornment.

  • Becky

    I started my career in a private school.  A few years before I came, the 6th grade social studies teacher was a blind man that had a service dog with him IN THE CLASSROOM!  Apparently it created a huge sense of community with the kids taking their jobs very seriously (instead of line-leader, board eraser, etc. you get to have the class job of feeding the dog or replacing his water bowl).  The school didnt’ have to accommodate the teacher–but they saw his value as a human and as an enriching element of an educational community. 

    Shame on this school.  

  • Pseudonym

    You’re right that it doesn’t excuse this case, but it does indicate that this story has almost exactly nothing to do with religion.

    There is nothing (I repeat in italics, nothing) in this story which even slightly indicates that “divine inspiration” was a cause of the school failing to look after this student. They failed because a) nothing legally required them to accommodate the student, and b) it was inconvenient for them to do so.

    Any non-public school would be in the same legal position as this one, religious or otherwise. One would hope that a non-public non-religious school would behave better. But then, one would hope that a non-public religious school would behave better, too.

    Looking at the wider issue, it is true that there are some special needs which many, if not most, schools can’t accommodate. There is a school near me which specialises, for example, in students who have disabilities so profound that they need a nursing staff to be within running distance at all times.

    On the flip side, there are some schools with special circumstances which means that it would be especially difficult for them to accommodate students with even relatively common special needs. My mother taught at a (non-public) school which had so many historic listed buildings that it was essentially impossible to make the entire campus wheelchair-accessible. (They started a deaf student programme instead. They weren’t the only school in the area, so nobody was really left out.)

    I’m not saying this is what happened here, because assistance animals are a pretty easy case. However, in general, I can easily see how, when faced with a student with special needs, a school might have to make a difficult decision as to whether or not they can realistically cope with a given student.

    There are so many non-public schools in the US (moreso than elsewhere), and so many kids, that it’s almost inevitable that eventually a student with special needs would meet a school that looks at their budget and potential for legal liability and decides the student is too much trouble. A private institution has more latitude than a public institution. That it was a religious school is also pretty much inevitable, given that most non-public schools are religious schools.

    Having said all that, I do agree that if “love” is really the highest goal, they should have done something. Bureaucracy is, of course, one of the most successful and time-tested ways of avoiding living up to your principles, whether you’re religious or not.

  • pagansister

     The Catholic school I taught in was built 80 plus years ago.  It is 3 levels and has no way to handle a wheel chair bound child.   We had a 1st grade teacher who walked on arm crutches due to a spinal birth defect.  She somehow managed the stairs.    I have no way of knowing if a child who needed a service dog ever applied, but would have been interested to know if that child would have been accepted.  I would like to think he/she would have been admitted. 

  • Ruth

    Access to insulin and test kits has been a problem for a number of public school students.  (And maybe private school students too). Some states have passed laws requiring schools to have a care plan in place and allowing students to carry the needed supplies (needles, test kits) rather than banning them as drugs or weapons.  Other states have not.  Several times schools have been sued for not providing proper care to diabetic students, sometimes requiring parents to come to the school several times a day to test their child’s blood and administer insulin.  It is a big problem.  

  • Everybodygoes

    People say that about their pets, but not colossal squid.

  • Ruth

    The dog may or may not be highly trained but dogs’ efficacy at detecting low blood sugar events is not yet adequately established and is based more on anecdote than solid research.   

  • Daniel_JM

    Again, I want to know the details of the particular case Mysapphirestar is citing. I’ve heard a similar claim several times, and almost always it was the case that students had to go to a school nurse to get their insulin, which is hardly the dire picture you are trying to imply is widespread in public schools. Keeping insulin with a nurse may not be optimal, but it is somewhat understandable, unlike the situation of denying someone access to their service dog. To compare the two situations is pretty bizarre.

  • Deven Kale

    “School attempts to allow a young child to die by denying her access to her medically necessary service animal.” Doesn’t really sound much better.

  • EllenBeth Wachs

    Well, now she can have her service dog AND learn about evolution!

  • Godlesspanther

    I find the school’s decision appalling. But, what do I know, I’m an atheist, so I can’t possibly have any basis for my morality. 

  • RowanVT

     Considering that dogs can detect seizures before they happen, smelling differences in blood sugar is not that far fetched.

    It was certainly interesting as a kid having *my* dog act as a seizure alert dog for my mom’s dog. We always had 15 minutes warning to stand there with the valium ready.

  • Colt Rosensweig

    Someone may have said this already, but there is no legitimate “certification” or “registration” for service dogs in the US. There are lots of scams, though, that would have you believe otherwise. As a SD handler and an atheist, I think that the ADA should apply to religious buildings as well. I also think that religious groups should be taxed, so …

  • Pluto Animus

    The guys in the ad don’t look like they’re doing a baptism.

    They look like they’re looking at their penises!   Typical Christians….

  • Colt Rosensweig

     There are certainly some diabetic alert dog scam organizations, but I know multiple people whose dogs consistently alert to their high and/or low blood sugars, including one who was a natural alerter. The others were trained to do it. Your breath smells different when your sugar levels change dramatically. Finding a seizure alert dog is much harder–you can really only train seizure response, and then either the dog will start to alert or she won’t.

  • Colt Rosensweig


  • MargueriteF

    I defer to your knowledge on the topic. I have no idea what insurance does and doesn’t cover for such schools. It just occurred to me as a sort of vague possibility. 

  • Edmond


  • Ruth

    Part of the problem is shortages of school nurses and there may be no nurse at the particular location.  If the child is old enough to test themselves and administer their own insulin they should be able to carry it and that isnt always the case.   The bigger problems have been with younger kids who need help and there is no nurse to help.  Several years ago there was litigation in California concerning this issue when a school did not provide assistance and the parent had to come in several times a day.  The parents sued after their child passed out in the school hallway.  The case was eventually settled but there is current litigation in California over who can administer insulin and tests to children.    

    The only point I am making is that public schools have lots of problems too in dealing with disabilities.  However, at least we can sue the public schools and say they are violating the ADA and possibly other laws as well.   

    The Juvenile Diabetes Association has considerable information on the issues facing diabetic kids in school.  

    Frankly, these are bigger problems than access to a service dog that may or may not be able to help identify blood sugar events.   But the policy of kicking kids out because a school can’t handle their disability is ethically problematic to say the least. 

  • Ruth

    Well, we still need the research to back up the anecdotes.   

  • Josh L.

    I wouldn’t buy what they say at face value. They may not have to obey federal school standards but I think they are a public accommodation and the ADA applies. You have to have wheel chair access in church. 

  • TwistedHiss

    It does indeed have almost exactly everything to do with religion because specifically religious entities are exempt from the ADA. That “nothing” in “nothing legally required them to accommodate the student” was…*cough*…their religious status. Not their non-public status, their religious status.

    Private non-religious schools are considered places of public accommodation and covered under Title III. The exception to this is if the school is held in a space donated by a religious organization.

    Reference the ADA Title III Technical Assistance Manual.

  • bernardaB

    Presumably the school knew of her problem when it let her enroll.  So why did it accept her in the first and then wait a half of scholastic year to kick her out?

  • Robert Freid

    And that explains why a man in Canada got his daughter taken away by the authorities for the daughter drawing her father shooting badguys and monsters with his gun, then showing the drawning to the school teacher at a Public School.

    I never was a fan of Public Schools…  

  • guest

    you know, im sure the school has no problem with a girl with diabetes. more likely the school does not know how to deal with a dog in the classroom, or how to prevent students from being distracted by it. they might not even have the right kind of facilities best suited for her dog. and what do you do about kids that are allergic to dogs? should they have to bear it?

    Im sure they didn’t want to kick out some poor girl for no reason. Its likely just the only thing they can do.

  • DigitalAtheist

    Says you! if there ain’t ain’t a Kraken in heaven why bother? Especially if it is The Kraken Rum! :-P

  • Unindoctrin8ed

    I’m so glad I live in a civilised Country. It is illegal to bar a recognised service animal from anywhere other than your private residence in Australia.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Sure I do, and at one time thus fifth grade girl was a zygote. And you and other pro death people like you would be perfectly okay with her mother killing her yet now you scream she is being mistreated.

    The mental contortions to deny life in the womb in order to appear ethical in your support of death in the womb would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Where did I ever say that?

  • Rwlawoffice

    Oh I get it. Every person saved from an abortion who becomes a Christian wants to kill gays. So very rational of you.

  • Rwlawoffice

    That is such a mis conception and faulty argument from pro abortion people. For example, the Catholics for all their faults are the most adamant pro life group and t the same time they are huge supporters of helping the poor and the sick etc…

  • S1h4d0w

    I’m going to sound really harsh, but I’m furious. The world needs to put a stop to this bullcrap that’s called religion. I don’t even care anymore that it “comforts the weak and the sick”, it only promotes hate. Nothing has killed more than religion, God and any other ‘supreme beings’ are the biggest lie humanity has ever chose to believe in.

    The Christian dark ages have been the worst thing to happen to us ever, if we skipped those technology would have been lightyears ahead of where we are now. Who knows what we could have invented by now, cures for aids, cancer and other diseases, we could have found a way to preserve world peace, find a clean and renewable energy source to save the planet, the possibilities are endless.

    Just look at the vatican, prohibiting the use of condoms (literally promoting aids), judging the LGBT community as sinners, why can’t people see how evil this whole institute is. Not to talk about Muslims, denying women human rights, humiliating and hiding them, starting wars against the ‘infidels’ who so happen to think differently than them (oh yeah, that reminds me, the crusaders, another good example).

    I am not saying that everyone who is a Christian or Muslim or believes in something else is evil and responsible for the actions others take in name of their religion but we all know this has gone to far. How can we allow people to continue to lie to their children, promote LGBT hate, tell them fairytale stories about a big bearded man in the sky that will help you with anything you want if you say nice things to him, loves you unconditionally, created you in his image, but will smithe you down if you are attracted to your own gender or listen to dubstep.


  • TCC

    Again, you need to provide some specifics about the case, and even if you are portraying the situation accurately, that doesn’t at all mean that it says anything useful about public schools.

  • TheBlackCat

    “Sure I do”

    No, you don’t.  If you consider the two to be equivalent, you don’t have any clue what the difference is.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Difference in form not substance. That is all.

  • Notnojunk

    Means nothing out of context. I’ve worked with at risk kids, their families, CPS, and schools. There must be much more going on for a child to be removed.

  • Notnojunk

    Hey, as a liberal Christian and the father of a child with DS, your post is offensive. Get off your high horse

  • lefty

    you believe in souls. that is all.

  • smrnda

    Christian schools and institutions might claim to care about compassion, but blind obedience to authority comes first, and the lesson being taught is that even if you’re the person who is weak and in need, your welfare needs to be sacrificed on the alter of ‘the rules’ since we need to make sure everybody knows who is in charge, which comes above human welfare.

    I once knew a family who sent their child with a learning disability to a Catholic school. The sisters just failed her for not keeping up and did nothing to help her and didn’t even seem to have any understanding of ‘learning disability’ or what that might entail. They had to show everybody who was in charge – the Christian God doesn’t have to accommodate our special needs, so why should his church?

  • Nell Webbish

    Funny how public schools manage to accommodate people with services dogs.  As do businesses, universities, hospitals, public transportation systems, government buildings, and millions of other public facilities across the country. 

  • Nell Webbish

    Churches are expressly exempt from ADA title III regulations, so no they do not have to be wheel-chair accessible, though some percentage of them are. 

  • Nell Webbish

    Yeah, not quite right, spanky.

    The father was held in custody for four hours and released. 

    The child was not removed from the home.

    The teacher, as a mandatory reporter, reported a 5 year old drawing pictures of her father shooting people.  The actions that occurred after that had nothing to do with the school. 

    Not to mention, I’m not sure how a school in Canada dealing with a weapons issue has anything to do with a Christian school in Tualatin, Oregon dealing with a service dog.

  • Deven Kale

     You’ve had the difference explained to you numerous times, but it’s not really important to the discussion anyway. This girl was not aborted, and needs help now. The Christian school, supposedly a bastion of tolerance and servitude, refused to help her. Their hypocrisy is there for everyone to see, and they’ve been called on it. That’s what this story is about.

    Now you’re going to claim that we’re no better because we care more about those who are actually living than a Christian group does? I think the truth is that you’re angry that those whom you consider inferior are actually being shown to have a better moral standard than those who share your beliefs. That’s why you have to tear us down any way you can. It’s rather pathetic really, but I’ve learned to expect no less from you.

  • Andrew Ayers

     A couple of points:

    1) We’re not “pro-abortion” – we’re “pro-choice”. Don’t want an abortion? Make that /choice/ and don’t have one! It’s that simple. However, if a woman wants to make a different choice, guess what cupcake – you (nor I, as a man) should have no say in that decision. Her body – her choice. Full stop.

    2) Regarding “Catholics” being “huge supporters of helping the poor and sick”, all I can say is “Like Mother Teresa, perhaps?”

  • YolyK

    Happy you have survived.  Hope you are now a Humanist, which means people doing good and living worthy/full of purposes lives, just for goodness sake! Not for an afterlife reward!

  • YolyK

    Double lives, double moral values, the christian’s heritage.  “Transformed by love. Empowered to serve”:  How hypocrites they are.  But that’s all about religion: most of them believe in the bible, and deny science, just an example. That’s very sad and worrysome.

  • The Other Weirdo

     First, technology can’t be light years ahead of anything because a light year is a measure of distance, not time. It measures the distance that light ravels in one year. And no, it’s technically inaccurate to say that you can  Hyperbole for the sake of argument is still hyperbole.

    Second, this post reminds me of that talk that Neil deGrasse Tyson once gave on UFOs. He made the point that if you call something a UFO(Unidentified Flying Object), you can’t turn around and then claim that it’s from Mars, or from Alpha Centauri, or that it’s an Asgard battleship from the galaxy Ido. Same with this post. You can’t say “who knows what we could have invented by now”, and then proceed to list the things we could have invented.

    And for what it’s worth, I’m not sure that the Dark Ages in Europe were, actually, the worst thing that ever happened to us.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Why didn’t they just pray in Jesus’ name? John 14:14. Surely if ever there was an unselfish prayer, that’d be one right there. Surely an all-loving, omni-benevolent and omnipotent god would have told them what to do, especially since he promised that very thing in his own Book. I mean, it’s not like we atheists have to muddle through life with no god to guide and support us. They have not only  a god, but the God.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Not Christian kids, surely. :) They don’t make a mess. I heard. Maybe.

  • The Other Weirdo

     Do you have a cite for Texas/Boston Strangler bit?

  • David Starner

    Google Texas Boston Strangler turns up a few: for one. It was a bit of smart-assery on the part of a representative who wanted to show that they weren’t reading the bills that came before them, that really only proved that they don’t worry much about resolutions that had no binding legal effect.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Yes I do but that has nothing o do with this. Life is life, regardless of its size. You on the other hand want to make a distinction so that when you support the killing of the unborn you can try to ignore that this is killing a life.

  • Rwlawoffice

    I have had people who try to morally justify killing the unborn explain the difference they say. I understand it, but I don’t agree with it. I fully understand it is the mental twisting that you need to try and justify killing the unborn while still trying to take the moral high road.

    On this particular issue regarding this girl, if you will read my first post I disagreed with the school.

  • Rwlawoffice

    You may call it pro choice, but choice for what ? It’s to have an abortion. Thus you are pro abortion

    And yea like Mother Teresa. And when you spent your life living in the slums of India taking care of untouchables, then you will have the moral standing to criticize her. Hit hens was a punk criticizing her from his ivory tower.

  • Pseudonym

    OK. I take part of it back. I’m not American, and didn’t know that detail.

    That, and only that, is relevant to religion. That loophole in the law should be closed.

    I do maintain, however, that many organisations would do the same in the same position. To read some of the comments here, you’d think that exploiting loopholes was a uniquely religious thing.

  • ZQFarnzy

    Pro choice meaning pro abortion? That’s like saying you like chocolate, so you must be pro-liposuction. (My apologies, of course, if you do not like chocolate.) Most people have the sense of mind to be responsible and NOT gorge on chocolate / get pregnant, but for the few that do, there’s always an option. But you support taking the option away.

  • The Other Weirdo

     It isn’t, but religion is unique in its claims to possessing not only absolutely perfect morality, but divinely mandated morality at that. We all know that humans have problems, that we are not all good, and that when do try to do good, sometimes we fail, and sometimes we don’t even try. That’s expected of all; after all, we’re only human. But when you have a group of humans telling the rest of us how much more moral they than us, and how that’s only because of their divine revelation, it’d be nice to actually see that even once in meat space. If atheists have to tell Christians that should have done something more than what they did, because that something more is no more than other institutions do routinely, there’s something wrong.

    Religious people with a divinely inspired morality(or so they tell us) should always be expected to be better than the rest of us, or else they should just shut up about the whole thing. You claim to be more moral than the rest of us, and then when it’s pointed out that you are not, turn around and claim that everybody is bad also. Sorry, that doesn’t wash.

  • The Other Weirdo

     I’m not really sure that cite makes the point you think it’s making, though since it’s after midnight, I can’t actually be sure.

  • 3lemenope

    Do you like hamburgers?

  • Anna

    How is that offensive? You’re a liberal Christian, so presumably you think women with unwanted or problematic pregnancies should be able to have an abortion.
    The kinds of Christians who run this school don’t. They demand that every fetus be born, but they are not willing to make a reasonable accommodation for a child who has a disability. It’s just another example of conservative Christians showing no concern once the child actually exists in the world. They would force a woman with a DS pregnancy to carry to term, but they wouldn’t allow her child in their school.

  • wmdkitty

    Has he ever taken antibiotics? Been deloused?

  • Robert Freid

    Just highlight what I am saying and look it up.

  • Robert Freid

    Fair enough…

  • Robert Freid

    I hate CPS. They claim to be for the children-and granted; once in a while they’ll get it right. But where I live CPS is crooked as fuck. I myself was unjustly taken from my mother and never given back, I SPENT 9 YEARS away from my real mother because of something that someone else did one night and she did not know about it. Funny thing is, she took care of the problem and yet they did not mention it in court. By the way, I find it interesting how CPS wants you to call the child’s parents the “Biological mother,” or “Biological father.” Not only that, when a child enters CPS they become what you call “Wards of the State.” Fancy doublespeak for basically saying “Property of the State.”
    So I am sorry that I don’t trust the State (government).

  • Rwlawoffice

    For both 3lemope and wmkitty: obviously we are talking about human life. If you want to put cows, bacteria and lice on the same level as humans that is your choice. I won’t follow you there.

  • Sindigo

    Bullshit. It’s a shitty thing to do. We have dogs in my workplace and no-one has a problem with it. Accommodations can always be made for a service animal. It’s a labrador, not a giraffe.

  • Sindigo

    Huh, I hadn’t looked at it like that. Sounds like a win-win to me. 

  • pagansister

     The kindergarten kids I taught in a Catholic school did their share of —making messes. (and not always just doing crafts—some had accidents, or just plain got sick—) so since they were on their way to being Christian kids, guess that means they actually were normal like those secular kids in kindergarten.  :o)    

  • pagansister

     Yes, school nurses are not always on location in many schools.  When I was teaching in the Catholic school, the nurse, provided by the city, was in the school 1 day a week and mostly that was to check on children’s medical information—ie have they had the required immunizations etc.  The school secretary was the one authorized to deal with “sick” kids, as was the principal.  Not an ideal situation.

  • 3lemenope

    Nothing obvious about it, since you said it has “nothing to do with souls” and your rhetoric was “life is life, no matter how small!”.

  • Swen.Ardere

    There is no real “love” in Christianity because the motivation for everything is inwardly focused.   It’s narcissism.  The Jesus character was a narcissist, then came Paul (also a narcissist) who actually crafted much of what is today “Christianity”. So why should the followers of this mythology be any different?

  • Cottonwoodcabin2

    I’m sorry, but as the parent of a child with life-threatening allergies, whose child can never ever have a fur-bearing pet of his own, I do not find a problem with this story.  How can you possibly say that an anaphylactic or asthmatic child should have to suffer to accommodate this service dog?  Has it ever occurred to you that the religious school may have been too small to accommodate all of the conflicting disabilities?

    The only way that my child could have gone to a school with service dogs would be if he was in a completely separate building that the other child and her dog would never enter.

    I’m a card carrying Atheist, however, this just seems like a poor excuse to bash Christians.  They did nothing wrong, the girl is getting an education and is happy.  The problem has been dealt with satisfactorily, and no child had to die or have their health affected.

    Please think this through.

  • amycas


    Sorry, I had to do it. :-D

  • amycas

     In Texas, children with asthma had the same type of problem, so they enacted a specific statute for children with asthma so they could have their inhalers on-person. They also enacted another statute to cover all other illnesses, such that, given the correct paper work, any medication can be kept in the office and administered to the student to whom it is prescribed (emergency medication, I believe, can be kept on-person as well).

  • amycas

     What system would you have in place instead?

  • amycas

     This is why I cringe when people say that private schools are better than public schools because of test scores and such. Those schools test better because they don’t have to accept all types of students, and because, mostly, their students tend to come from well-off families who can afford the private school.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Then edit my comment so it is clear to you- human life is human life no matter how small.

  • Marc Mielke

    Places that have to follow actual laws more or less consider service animals sacred. The little airline I used to work for, for instance, flew 10-seater planes inter-island (in Hawaii)  and not only did we have to take service animals at no extra charge (saving their companion ~$75), but we also had to offer to re-book anyone with doggie problems at no extra charge. 

    In our case, we’d verbally ask each passenger whether they had a problem with an animal. I never had anyone object. (These flights are usually under 30 mins, so you’d have to have kind of a severe allergy.) 

    I could totally see that teacher requesting the kid with the service dog; If I had to teach a bunch of kids eight hours a day, I’d like having a nice animal around too!

  • UAJamie

    I was wondering about this as well. I thought it would still be covered under the reasonable accommodations clause of the ADA. Are churches really exempt?

  • Jennifer Lange

     Pro-choice should actually be a Christian’s stance, as it fiercely defends a person’s right to not be judged, except by one’s maker. The circumstances surrounding abortion do not always just involve sleeping around, and there have been many cases of the denial of abortion, only to kill the mother.  How is that pro-life?  When a drug addict refuses to stop using even though she is pregnant, and her use seriously or possibly terminally cripples the fetus, it ceases to be pro-life, just pro-suffering.  When the child is born with serious defects, the parent refuses to take care of it, the parent is unable to take care of it, and social programs are being whittled away because of the choices of the same people who claim to be pro-life, they are no longer pro-life, they are pro-suffering. When they care more about the death of a zygote than the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in what are basically religious wars, they are not pro-life, they are pro-suffering, and pro-death.  “Pro-life” is one of the most ironic and antithetical phrases out there.  Very few people actually want to be put in the position of such a choice, but their souls should be judged solely by themselves and their Creator, if you believe in one.  We are not pro-abortion, we are pro-choice, and what is life if you have no choice, if everything is predetermined and fated?  Pro-Choice is Pro-Life, but those who consider themselves to be pro-life should only label themselves as Pro-Hypocrisy and Pro-Suffering.  They don’t care about children, just about cells.

  • Janemarie Crider-Razo

    I believe in “God”, but things like this are (part of) the reason I will never again indentify as a Christian.