Should the ACLU of Texas support this student who wants to distribute religious messages to his classmates?Do you think The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas should file amicus brief...

Should the ACLU of Texas support this student who wants to distribute religious messages to his classmates?

Do you think The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas should file amicus brief in surpport of liberty institute lawsuit against plano school principals in detail explaination.

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Yes, that is the purpose of the ACLU. They have long maintained that their purpose is to support the constitution and freedom of speech, no matter what the issue. Students are always a gray area as far as rights are concerned, so it is a good time for the ACLU to get involved. There was nothing offensive about the religious message. It didn't contain hate speech. The ACLU intervened.
brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think this case is trickier than the above posts suggest.  While courts do not allow public schools to sponsor religion, they cannot inhibit its practice either, as long as it is not disruptive to the educational process.

So if, during class, a student were to light some incense and begin some Buddhist chants, that would be disruptive.  Even though he/she would have the right to practice religion, it cannot prevent others from learning.

In this case, if the student is able to distribute religious messages in such a fashion, then all religions must be allowed to.  Would a student that is handing out verses from the Koran be more disruptive than this case in an overwhelmingly Christian Texas school population, and therefore more subject to restriction.  It's problematic legally, to say the least.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with #2. Definitely freedom of speech is a right that should be upheld and protected, but at the same time you must be very careful as an institution to make sure that you are not perceived to support one religious view, which would implicitly therefore show a lack of support for other religious approaches and therefore disenfranchise some members of this institution.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I assume that you are talking about the case (described in the aclutx.org link below) regarding the boy who wanted to give his classmates copies of a Christian story about the origins of candy canes in a holiday gift bag.  If so, I would argue that the ACLU was right when they decided to file an amicus brief.

The point at issue in this case is whether students can engage in "speech" that has religious content.  I firmly believe that schools should not promote religion, but I also believe that they should not discriminate against individual students who want to promote religion.  Of course, the students have to be sure not to disrupt class and it has to be clear that the religious message is not endorsed by the school.  Otherwise, however, it is important that schools should not infringe on the free speech rights of students who want to testify as to their religious beliefs.

Because of this, I think that the ACLU was right to file an amicus brief on behalf of this student.

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