An Ohio teenager and his family are suing a public school over an incident during which they say the boy was compelled to eat pizza, despite his faith’s prohibition on consuming pork.
Identified as “K.W.” in court papers, the teen, 17 at the time, was a member of the football team in a public school in Canton. He said coaches told players that the only way they could get out of doing repetitive drills would be to eat some pepperoni pizza.
The student explained that he is a member of the Hebrew Israelite faith, whose members do not consume pork, but the coaches told him that he would lose his position on the team if he did not eat the pizza, reported The Washington Post.
The boy was told he could remove the pepperoni from the pizza, but pork residue remained. Under continued pressure, he eventually ate the pizza.
The coaches’ actions, the lawsuit contends, were “antisemitic and shameful” and caused the boy “substantial permanent injury.”
The Post reported that the school district investigated the incident and fired most of the coaches involved, and the player transferred to another school.
Edward Gilbert, an attorney representing the family, told The Post that efforts have been made to settle the case but that school officials backed away from a proposed settlement, leaving the family with no option but to sue.
Peter Pattakos, an attorney for the coaches who were fired, insists that the matter has been overblown and that the boy and his family are seeking retaliation after the teen was disciplined for poor performance and showing disrespect to the coaches.
School officials maintain that the lawsuit is without merit and say they’ll fight it.