- (Photo: Screenshot via NBC 6)
Parents in Temecula, Calif., are outraged after a teacher interrupted their 6-year-old daughter's classroom speech about Christmas, telling her she's "not allowed to talk about the Bible in school."
The incident took place on Dec. 19 at Helen Hunt-Jackson Elementary School in Temecula. A first grade teacher had asked each student to share with the class something from home that symbolized how their family celebrated Christmas, or the holiday season in general. Brynn Williams brought the Star of Bethlehem, a tree topper, and prepared a one-minute speech explaining how the star helped the three kings of the Nativity story find the baby Jesus.
"Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree," Williams reportedly told her class. "The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The three kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world."
As the young girl was about to conclude her short presentation by citing John 3:16, her teacher reportedly told her "Stop right there! Go take your seat!" After the girl sat down, the teacher then reportedly proceeded to tell the entire class that Williams "was not allowed to talk about the Bible or share its verses."
Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty, has sent a letter to the school district on behalf of Brynn's family. The letter requests the district change its policy to ensure no student feels hostility or disapproval from educators for their religious beliefs. In addition to the letter, the law firm has also requested the Temecula Valley Unified School District provide a written apology to Brynn and allow her to finish her speech in front of her classmates.
"The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation's public schools has become epidemic," Robert Tyler, general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom, said in a statement. "I hope that TVUSD will take the lead role in adopting a model policy to prohibit this abuse that has become all too common place for religious-minded students."
The school district has released a statement to The Blaze, saying the school is still in the process of investigating the issue and will therefore wait to comment.
"The Temecula Valley Unified School District respects all students' rights under the Constitution and takes very seriously any allegation of discrimination," the statement read. "Due to the fact that District officials are currently investigating the allegations, it would be inappropriate to provide further comment at this time."
Williams' recent experience is similar to an incident that took place at Merced Elementary School in West Covina, Calif. on Dec. 13, when the teacher of 6-year-old student Isaiah Martinez told the boy he could not distribute candy canes with religious messages taped on them to his classmates. The teacher reportedly threw away the religious messages, but let Martinez pass out the candy canes. Advocates for Faith & Freedom is also defending the Martinez family, requesting that the West Covina Unified School District revise its policy to protect religious students from intimidation, and provide a written apology to Martinez.