Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Kansas public school student who was barred from posting religious fliers at her middle school because they contain Bible verses.
"Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas," said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp in a statement Monday. "The law on this is extremely clear: school policies cannot target religious speech for exclusion. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of their religious or political beliefs."
The lawsuit, filed last week, argues in favor of the seventh-grade student at Robert E. Clark Middle School, who was informed in September that the fliers she was posting at the school were "illegal" and could not be distributed at the school. The postings apparently included Bible verses and promoted a "see You at the Pole" event, which encourages students to gather at their local flagpole at the beginning of each day and pray for the school, students, staff and nation.
ADF noted that a district-wide policy bans the distribution of "religious materials … on school grounds or in any attendance facility before, during, or after the school day or a school activity."
The lawsuit points out, however, that in the past the school has allowed various postings, including a tombstone with the words "RIP" and a poster of rap artist Lil' Wayne with the words "Good Kush and Alcohol."
"Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. Non-disruptive, private student expression is protected by the First Amendment," the law group wrote, adding that "the government may not discriminate against speech based on its viewpoint, regardless of the forum."
Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco concluded that "marginalizing students of faith removes an important influence for good from the school community."
In November, a public charter school in Rock Hill, S.C., decided to drop its upcoming Christmas carols winter concert after an unidentified, anti-religion organization threatened possible litigation if it did not comply.
In response, ADF sent the school a letter urging them to rescind the ban on Christmas carols by school officials, insisting that the U.S. Constitution "clearly allows the inclusion of religious Christmas carols in school productions."
"We hope our letter will help clear up the misinformation that this school apparently received and that it will lift its unnecessary and unconstitutional ban," Tedesco said in another statement.