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Religious Freedom: We’re All Equal, But Some Are More Equal Than Others

protest speechI took my first foray into the legislative process this January, testifying at a committee hearing of the Colorado House in support of a bill that would have prohibited universities from denying benefits to any religious student group based on “the religious student group’s requirement that its leaders adhere to the group’s sincerely held religious beliefs or standards of conduct.” That’s it. The bill didn’t apply to visitors to the groups, or even regular members.

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School Boards Need Constitutional Speech Policies for Students

Sometimes when school boards worry about endorsing religion, they go too far the other way. This seems to have happened when fourth-grade J.G. was not allowed to hand out his Easter Egg Hunt invitations. A Florida federal court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of his student speech in Gilio v. School Board of Hillsborough County on October 5, 2012. It reasoned that J.G. was likely to win his arguments that the school had violated his constitutional rights.

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Good News in the Schoolhouse

 On August 29, 2012, the Eighth Circuit decided in favor of Child Evangelism Fellowship in Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Minneapolis Special Sch. Dist. No. 1.  It reversed the denial of CEF’s preliminary injunction where it had tried to stop a school district in Minnesota from limiting school facility access for a Good News Club.

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Forbidding or Allowing Student Religious Speech

One challenge in figuring out what religious speech is permitted for students is that it depends on whether the school is trying to prevent the speech or allow it. A January 2013 Second Circuit case, A.M. v. Taconic Hills Central School District, gives some insight, though it is a summary order that is not precedential.

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Expression of Religion in Public Schools

Religious Liberty in Public SchoolsThis article discusses the intersection of religious expression and public schools. It focuses on the Equal Access Act, student speech, school personnel speech, access forcommunity viewpoints, and released time.

Confusion is widespread as to what may be taught, expressed, or otherwise introduced onto the premises of the nation’s public schools. “Nowhere has the proper line of demarcation [in the appropriate amount of separation between church and state] been more difficult to define than in our nation’s public schools.”1As the Tenth Circuit has said:

So long as the state engages in the widespread business of molding the belief structure of children, the often recited metaphor of a “wall of separation” between the church and the state is unavoidably illusory.2... Read More →

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