An instructional assistant at a Florida high school has reportedly complained about her co-worker’s parking space that quotes a verse from the New Testament, saying it offends her as Jewish person.
Marina Gentilesco, who works at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Pasco County, Florida, said she has been angered every day she passed by her co-worker’s parking spot that is painted with Philippians 4:13, which reads, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,” according to local Fox affiliate Fox 59.
“I feel like it’s attacking me as a Jew,” she said, according to the outlet.
Gentilesco, whose parents told her stories of the Holocaust, said the quote from an epistle of St. Paul brings back painful memories.
“It brings me to the verge of tears because it brings me back to the 6 million that perished,” Gentilesco said. “Six million perished because of our faith — because we’re Jews.”
Gentilesco maintained that she would not mind such a biblical display at a church but believes it is out of place on state-funded school ground.
“You put it on a state-funded property,” she said. “I’m not OK with it.”
Gentilesco reportedly took her concerns to her principal, who then went to the district. Citing freedom of expression, Pasco County Schools decided against ordering the removal of the Bible verse.
“It’s not a violation,” said Pasco County Schools Public Information Officer Stephen Hegarty. “This is personal expression.”
Hegarty noted that “there is no proselytizing going on” and that the parking spot is “not compelling students to do anything one way or the other.”
Noting that the parking space had nothing to do with instruction, Hegarty said that “it’s just a teacher expressing themselves just like they might wear a crucifix on their shirt.”
“Teachers and students are free to express themselves,” Hegarty added.