KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Liberty Institute is committed to defending your religious liberty rights and ensuring that public schools abide by the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech, expression and the free exercise of religion.
If a public school censors or prohibits your religious speech, expression or practice, and you are unsure if the public school’s actions violate your First Amendment freedoms, contact Liberty Institute. We need you to stand up for religious freedom so that these freedoms will be preserved for our generation and the generations to come.
THE FIRST AMENDMENT…
Protects, among other things, your right to free speech and free expression of your religious beliefs.
Prohibits a school district from being hostile towards religious beliefs and expression. Unlike the government, students may promote specific religious beliefs or practices.
For more detailed information and case precedent go to libertyinstitute.org/student-bill-of-rights
PRAYER, THE BIBLE, & RELIGIOUS CONVERSATIONS:
Public schools must treat religious expression such as prayer, reading the Bible, and religious discussion the same way they treat similar non-religious expression.
Schools may limit topics of conversation during instructional time, but if the school gives the students freedom to talk or write about whatever the students want then the school may not ban religious expression during those unrestricted times.
If a school allows any other non-curricular clubs, the school must also allow religious clubs. A religious club may meet, use the public address system, and distribute flyers in the same way the school allows a non-curricular club.
Students can talk about their faith in their speeches so long as the student speaker is chosen based on neutral criteria, such as his or her grades.
Students may privately pray, either individually or as a group, at a school athletic competition (such as a football game), student assembly, or other extracurricular activity when school officials (teachers or administrators) are not involved.
Students may lead pre-activity (sports, assembly) prayer if:
• the school allows pre-activity speech;
• the school does not control the content of the speech (even if the school reviews the speech for vulgarity, etc.) and
• it is clear that the speech is the student’s and not the school’s.
Students may incorporate their faith or religion in assignments so long as:
• the message fits the assignment,
• it is the students’ own work, and
• it follows assignment directions.
For example, if a student is asked to write about a person who is important to the student, the student is free to write about Jesus. If the student is given a math problem, however, writing about Jesus instead of answering the problem would be inappropriate.
A school can celebrate Christmas as long as the intent is to educate and not to advance Christianity. Schools are also free not to celebrate Christmas.
If students are allowed to distribute gifts at a school party, then the students may not be prohibited from giving out their gifts just because the gift includes a religious message.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.