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East Baton Rouge Students Say They were ‘Conned’ into Attending Perverted Religious Events

The East Baton Rouge school system in Louisiana has been accused of tricking hundreds of high school students into attending a religious event this week disguised as a college and career fair.

Once the students arrived at the venue—a church called the Living Faith Christian Center—they said they found something far different from the career fair called “Hope Day.” While several colleges did attend the event, students said the emphasis appeared to be on something completely different.

Students were reportedly separated into two groups based on gender, forced to register to vote for a promoted free meal, and listened to speakers share disturbing stories about rape, suicide, and abstinence. A teacher claimed in a Facebook post that some transgender students were being bullied by their peers at the event.

Now, a group called “Day of Nope” is seeking to file a lawsuit over the episode and is asking participants to share their experiences through a new website. “This was supposed to be a college fair, but the girls were talking about abstinence, bullying and death. And people are playing games,” one student told ABC affiliate WBRZ, which reported the latest reaction to the event.

“Boys are encouraged to act macho while girls are advised to forgive men who rape and assault them,” said the GoFundMe for this litigation effort, which had raised $75 on Saturday. “Speakers directed students to graphic stories and suicide reenactments, which left some students with past loss to suicide disturbed and upset without emotional support to help them. Student found in bathroom crying.”

“In violation of federal law, lunches are conditioned by completing voter registration forms and other election-related materials being distributed to students,” added the fundraising page, titled “Fighting Back Against the Trauma of ‘Day of Hope’.”

Brittney Bryant, a biology teacher who complained about the event on Facebook, was angry that “boys were ordered to go outside while girls were left at church for ‘girls lectures.’ My transgender child was discriminated against for walking out.”

“I stayed and listened to the discussions,” Bryant added. “They talk about rape, forgiving perpetrators in life, suicide, prayer leadership, and many other darkly controversial topics. We had women in the bathroom crying over the topic of discussion. ”

Meanwhile, Bryant claimed, the boys’ discussions were called “real talk” and included “male chauvinistic competitions for prize money”, including doing push-ups. “They were hypnotized and instigated,” he wrote in his social media post.

A student named Alexis Budyach also took to Facebook to detail what she called a “horrific experience” that began with “rap battles and singing competitions, harmless fun.”

Her mother, Bonnie Kersch, told Lawyer that they didn’t know a “college fair” would be held at the church. “He felt cheated into thinking he was going to college and a career fair,” Kersh told the Baton Rouge newspaper, “that he was converted to religion and prayed for.”

After the ice-breaker, male students were asked to leave the room, Budyach said in his post. “As a genderfluid person, I don’t identify as male or female, so this is a troubling situation for me,” Budyach wrote. “However, due to the nature of the program in the church, I immediately assumed that I would be discriminated against if I went with the boys, so I just sat down and kept my mouth shut. Then, since the girls were alone, the host introduced three women who were meant to ‘guide us on our journey of becoming young queens.’”

Budyach said the first speaker was a priestess, who spoke about staying true to oneself and not trying to fit in with the crowd. “One example she used for this was how she kept her virginity during high school and college,” Budyach wrote. “After he proudly announced this, he expected applause. She mentioned how everyone knew her as a ‘good Christian girl’ and she was proud of that.”

The second speaker, Budyach added, “is involved in the education sector in some way” and talked about “how a guy he met on a dating app ended up trying to kill him by strangling him.” The woman allegedly told the students that she kept their romance a secret, so no one would know if she killed her. “He used this to finally make the argument that if something needs to be kept secret, then it shouldn’t happen at all,” Budyach wrote.

After this warning about domestic violence, Budyach said, the woman also “emphasized that if she waited for the man the god meant for her, then it wouldn’t happen. He uses this to embarrass the concept of ‘dating around’ and takes a soulmate-esque approach to the situation.

“Moreover,” Budyach wrote, “he explained that he had forgiven his ex-girlfriend for his attempted murder, even if he had no regrets. Again, there may be a valuable message, but it is lost in the traumatic story and religious imagery.”

The third speaker was a nurse with a PhD, Budyach continued, and “provided a very detailed description of the morning that she found her son’s body after he hanged himself.”

“He explained that this happened because his son was being bullied,” claims Budyach. “He used this story to say that people these days are too mean to each other and we have to stick together. For the third time, a message that might be useful is hidden behind a deeply traumatic story of a day that has no warning or ideas that we will learn.”

When both groups of students were called to the venue, a speaker named Donk “gave the most fantastic story imaginable,” said Budyach.

“He started by saying at the age of 9 he was shot in the stomach and saw his intestines fall into his hands. Later, he was paralyzed and used a wheelchair from the age of 11-13 (not sure what happened in 9-11). One day, he said, he was with his grandmother who was snoring very loudly and she started wiggling her toes and was no longer paralyzed. Then, he started ‘toying with the wrong people’ and ended up in prison with a life sentence of +90 years on two counts of armed robbery and murder. He said how he was sad in prison and tried to kill himself with the bed sheet (which he showed with the sheet he had on stage), but somehow he changed his mindset and got out of jail,” Budyach wrote.

“In the end, the hosts made the crowd make a choice. He said, ‘If you want to eat, pizza right outside the door is for you. If you choose change, if you want to be better, come to the stage at me.’ At this point we hadn’t eaten and frankly, I was done traumatized, so I left the building.”

In a statement, the school district appeared to defend the field trip, which was conducted in partnership with 29:11 Mentor Families, a religious non-profit organization for at-risk youth. (The group’s website says, “We believe by being Inspirational, Deliberate, and Intimate, we can point our students to Jesus Christ who determines their future and to change the world.”)

“East Baton Rouge Parish School System has partnered with to provide additional support services for students in our district,” the school system said. “One of these initiatives is the ‘Day of Hope’ event. This event is 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 is an upgrade from the traditional college and career fair.

“Students are given lunch and a rare opportunity to mingle with their peers from other high schools in one setting. We look forward to seeing what our more than 2,100 student attendees will continue to achieve with the resources and knowledge gained from this event.”

A Facebook video from August 31 promoting the event with 29:11 founder Tremaine Sterling, standing next to school system superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse. “I’m very excited about this partnership,” Narcisse says in the video. “We have great things between EBR and 29:11 Academy. This will be where all seniors in all high schools will participate. Just one of many partnerships we have.”

“So note the date,” Sterling added, “This is going to be awesome. Thousands of people come under one roof, to grow, to be better.”

Trey Holiday, a student who attended the event, said Lawyer that the campus portion of the event only includes outdoor tents for some schools and programs.

“It feels more like a spiritual event than a college career and fair,” he said.

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or call the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

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