Very Normal Louisiana 'College Fair' Tells Girls To Forgive Rapists, Encourages Attacking Trans Kids

Very Normal Louisiana 'College Fair' Tells Girls To Forgive Rapists, Encourages Attacking Trans Kids

This past Tuesday, around 2100 students from the East Baton Rouge school system were lured to what they were promised was going to be a "college and career fair." The "college and career fair," called "A Day of Hope," turned out to be a "traumatizing" religious indoctrination event that had pretty much nothing to do with going to college or starting a career whatsoever.

Now, kids know what to expect out of a college and career fair. You get the day off of school, you meet some college reps from various schools, you get some applications, some swag and some free snacks. This was not that. The "Day of Hope" was held at Living Faith Christian Center, a fact that was not actually mentioned on the flyer students received.

Biology teacher Brittney Byrant, who was a chaperone on the trip as well as the parent of a student who attended, wrote on Facebook that the day started out terribly — with 2,000 students going through one metal detector one by one in extreme heat, until they just gave up on the metal detector entirely — and just got worse.

"After inside the church, boys were instructed to go outside while the girls were left in the church for 'girl talk,'" she wrote. "My transgender child was discriminated against for walking out. I stayed and listened to the discussion. They talked about rape, forgiving the offender in life, suicide, prayer leadership, and many more dark controversial topics. We had females in the bathrooms crying due to the topics of discussion. Meanwhile the boys were left outside in the extreme heat. The boys then were escorted in and the girls outside. The boys topic was titled “real talk”. From the beginning no topics were discussed but began male chauvinistic competition for monetary reward for winners. Then proceeded to compete for push ups for more money. They were hyped up and egged on."

Following this, she wrote, it was time to get pizza! Except the students couldn't get any pizza until they filled out a voter registration form handed to them by a local councilman who is currently up for reelection.

"Throughout it all," Byrant wrote, "I was told by many attendees that there were students who were told they cannot go to the bathroom. What was sad to hear from students that there were transgender students who were bullied. Other students poured water on top of transgender students heads without any repercussions by any of the adults present."

Another parent wrote on Facebook “DAY OF HOPE? More like day of trauma. You prayed over my child, told her that she should remain abstinent, talked to her about suicide, and told her that if she’s being abused in a domestic violence situation that she should forgive her abuser even if he’s not sorry.”

Senior Alexis Budyach also weighed in, saying that "the majority of students were not only disappointed by this event, but traumatized as well."

“That was neither the place nor the time for those conversations,” another parent told reporters at WAFB News. “The level of dishonesty is a complete problem for me and bringing this religious factor into it. That’s not a problem if it’s in certain spaces and it’s given permission and I know I’m sending my child for that but we didn’t sign up for this.”

The school district has since defended the event in a statement, saying that it was meant to be an "elevation" of a college and career fair, not a regular college and career fair.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System has partnered with 29:11 Mentoring Families to provide additional support services for students in our district. One of these initiatives is the “Day of Hope” event. The event was structured to assist students with exploring what options are available after high school, along with allowing students to participate in breakout sessions and student-initiated activities and projects. By providing entertaining activities with an educational focus, this event was an elevation of a traditional college and career fair. Students were provided with lunch and a rare opportunity to mingle with their peers from other high schools in one setting. We look forward to seeing what our over 2,100 student participants will continue to achieve with the resources and knowledge gained from this event.

Okay, got it: You're not sorry.

The school also told WAFB that all of the praying and all of the topics discussed were student-initiated and -led. Speaking to the station, Brittany Bryant said this was not the case at all: "They had three guest speakers. One for abstinence, one for the bullying and self harm and the other one was about forgiving the abuser. Those women were talking about their own experiences and were telling them in extreme detail.”

The organizers of "A Day of Hope" actually appeared on WAFB beforehand to promote the event, and to be fair to the school, did not give any hint that the plan was to bully trans students, tell girls to forgive abusers and rapists, or suggest that it was going to be a religious event. That being said, neither did they seem to know all that much about what an actual college and career fair entails, beyond the traditional sing-a-long to a song that one of the guys organizing it made up.

29:11 Mentoring Families gets its name from the actual Bible, however, so that ought to have been a pretty big hint to administrators that this was perhaps not going to be a secular event.

This, on their website, may also have been a clue:

For now, at least, it remains illegal to proselytize in public schools or for schools to sponsor religious events.

For now.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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