Around 2,100 students in the United States were recently bussed from their high schools to what they thought would be a college and career fair. Instead, they were taken to a church, separated by gender, and given two wildly different experiences.
According to Newsweek, high school students across Louisiana attended a "College & Career Fair" on Tuesday at Living Faith Christian Center. In the event, the schoolgirls were allegedly told about "forgiving the offender" in rape cases. Several parents complained about the program saying that their daughters felt "duped" into attending an event where they were "proselytized over and prayed over".
Citing local media outlet The Advocate, Newsweek reported that Brittney Byrant, a biology teacher at Woodlawn High, with a child at the same school, complained about the "gender-segregated" talks for girls and boys. Ms Bryant stated that the girls were dressed by three women, who spoke about "rape and forgiving the offender, suicide, prayer leadership and many more dark controversial topics".
The biology teacher claimed that her transgender child, who identifies as male, was also initially blocked from leaving the "girls talk". "Other students poured water on top of transgender students' heads without any repercussions by any of the adults present," Ms Bryant reportedly said.
She also went on to say that at the event for boys "no topics were discussed". Male students instead took part in a push-up competition with money prizes, she stated.
A senior student at a high school, Alexis Budyach, also complained about the event. As per the outlet, she said that the majority of students chose to attend the 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 traumatised as well," Ms Budyach claimed.
In response to the criticism, East Baton Rouge Parish school system released a statement. They described the event as an "elevation of a traditional college and career fair". "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," they said.
Separately, 29:11 Mentoring Families - the organiser of the event and a local Christian non-profit - said that the event was designed to give "resources and tools to young people as they prepare for their next steps after high school". They also went on to claim that they received "countless messages" of support and appreciation for this event from attendees. "We are excited to continue offering this event in the future," the organisation added.