Louisiana Schoolgirls Told To Forgive Rapists on Field Trip, Sparks Outrage

Schoolgirls in Louisiana were allegedly told about "forgiving the offender" in rape cases as part of a controversial field trip to a local religious center.

At least 2,100 students from high schools across Baton Rouge attended what was promoted as a "College & Career Fair" on Tuesday, at the city's Living Faith Christian Center.

The event was organized by 29:11 Mentoring Families, a local Christian non-profit run by Tremaine Sterling.

However, according to Louisiana newspaper The Advocate, several parents later complained online about the program, with one saying her daughter felt "duped" into attending an event where she was "proselytized over and prayed over."

Living Faith Christian Center in Baton Rouge
This photo shows the Living Faith Christian Center in Baton Rouge. Schoolgirls were allegedly told about "forgiving the offender" in rape cases as part of a controversial field trip to the center. Google Street View

Brittney Byrant, a biology teacher at Woodlawn High, with a child at the same school, complained about what she claimed were gender-segregated talks for girls and boys.

On Facebook she said the girls were addressed by three women, who "talked about rape [and] forgiving the offender, suicide, prayer leadership and many more dark controversial topics. We had females in the bathrooms crying due to the topics of discussion."

Byrant claimed her transgender child, who identifies as male, was initially blocked from leaving the "girls talk." She added: "Other students poured water on top of transgender students' heads without any repercussions by any of the adults present."

In contrast Bryant said at the event for boys "no topics were discussed," with male students instead taking part in a push-up competition with money as prizes.

Speaking to The Advocate Bryant explained why she had spoken out, stating: "I just want to bring to light what happened with the kids and the feelings they had."

Alexis Budyach, a Baton Rouge Magnet High senior, also complained about the event on Facebook.

She wrote: "The majority of students chose to attend this field trip on the promise of free food and the opportunity to skip class, however, the majority of students were not only disappointed by this event, but traumatized as well."

Bonnie Kersch, mother of a girl who attended, said her daughter didn't realize the event would be so religious. Kersch said: "She felt she was duped into thinking that she was going for a college and career fair, that she was proselytized over and prayed over."

In response to online criticism East Baton Rouge Parish school system released a statement describing the event as "an elevation of a traditional college and career fair."

They added: "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."

Speaking to The Advocate Sterling, from 29:11 Mentoring Families, said the event was designed to give "resources and tools to young people as they prepare for their next steps after high school."

He continued: "We've received countless messages online and in person of support and appreciation for this event from attendees, and we are excited to continue offering this event in the future."

Newsweek has contacted East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools, the Living Faith Christian Center and 29:11 Mentoring Families for comment.

In July, students at a West Virginia high school planned a walkout after learning they would be sent during school hours to an evangelical Christian revival assembly.

Separately, a parent was slammed for letting their daughter take a Hellfire Club branded water bottle, based on Netflix series Stranger Things, into a religious school.

Also, Newsweek has investigated the claim by former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich that "Biden is giving $500,000 grants to spread atheism overseas."