The Broward County (Florida) School District is being sued in federal court after a student was told she could not distribute an invitation for a meeting at her church to classmates.
The lawsuit was filed by John Curran along with his daughter Christine, who took a flyer to school when she was a student at Driftwood Middle School in Hollywood, Florida. The flyer was an invitation to hear a Christian youth speaker at her church. As Christine was heading to class, a teacher saw her handing out the flyers and confiscated the material, claiming school guidelines had not been followed.
The suit states that Christine was told by school officials that she could not pass out the invitations. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel says the school district's policy is unconstitutional for two reasons.
“Number one, it requires prior review,” Liberty Counsel's president says, “but also … it requires prior review particularly of religious literature, so it really is singling out religious viewpoints to the exclusion of secular viewpoints.”
Staver says the school's policy lacks guidelines and allows blatant censorship of religious viewpoints. But he says individuals and school officials need to realize that religious speech and literature are highly protected forms of speech in the U.S.
“If in fact you wanted to invite a friend to a program after church, you don't lose constitutional protection when you want to write that on a piece of paper and give it to your friend and give them some directions,” Staver explains. “So there really is no difference between verbal speech and speech through printed pages like a gospel tract or the Bible.”
The legal expert says public school students have the right to distribute religious literature at school, as well as the right to be free from discrimination based upon the content of the literature they are distributing. Staver says it may be time for school district officials to return to school to learn about the First Amendment.
(This article courtesy of Agape Press).