Anti-vax mum sues school for kicking out her daughters

She claims the family's religion prohibits foreign substances, like vaccines, in the body.

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An anti-vax mother in the US is claiming religious discrimination after her daughters' school 'violated' their rights to remain unvaccinated.

Marina Williams' daughters aged 13 and 15 attended an upstate New York high school until the school refused to teach them after finding out their vaccination schedules were not up to date.

Williams says they have been given “religious exemption” to immunisation in the past.

She claims the school is breaking the law by refusing to educate her children and that they are falling behind after being out of school for two months.

WIVB reports that she filed a petition in State Supreme Court after the school board denied her application for religious exemption.


The New York school at the centre of the debate. Source: WIVB.

No foreign substances in body

The family belongs to the Temple of the Inner Flame Church.

The religion supposedly prohibits followers from putting foreign substances like drugs, alcohol and vaccines in their bodies.

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“I’ve never had a vaccine before. My mother, my sister, my aunt, my grandmother haven’t either,” Williams told WIVB. “To me, that was just a given … it’s not something I’ve ever had to defend before.”

She says she's not part of the anti-vax movement. “It’s religious persecution for the most part and that’s not OK with me,” she said.

“The Orchard Park school system is asking me to go against everything that I believe in and my faith.”


Williams says her girls are falling behind in school. Picture: WIVB Source:Supplied

Not about the health risk

Her lawyer Frank Housh says what the school is doing is illegal. He says his client’s children are not legally required to be vaccinated, but they are legally required to be educated.

"These children don't have to be vaccinated if they have a legitimate religious reason not to do that. The law says they have to be educated, they are refusing to do that."

And he claims the girls are not a health risk.

"We understand that there are large public health concerns related to vaccination, but that is not what this case is about," said Housh.

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Lawyers for the school district released the following statement:

“A school district has no duty more important than protecting the health, safety, and welfare of its students and staff. Ensuring the immunization requirements under New York State law have been met is critical to carrying out this duty. Because this matter is now before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.”