2018 Victories: ACLJ Helps Protect Student’s First Amendment Rights Against Religious Discrimination in School | American Center for Law and Justice
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ACLJ Helps Protect Student’s Rights in School

By ACLJ.org1544633925573

This is the latest installment in a year-end series looking back at some of the numerous victories by the ACLJ in 2018.

The ACLJ stands for Religious Freedom.

So when a Christian family in Iowa contacted us because their son - an elementary school student – was threatened with punishment simply because he used a book containing Christian stories as the subject of an assignment, we took direct action.

Earlier this year, when the student turned in his journal assignment containing writings about Bible stories he had read, the teacher claimed she did not feel qualified to grade his writings since she was not a pastor.

However the “grading” in question was nothing more than checking to see whether the student had actually filled out a journal entry. It wasn’t about content at all.

The teacher instructed him that future readings should be from books found either in her classroom or the school library.

The next time, the student located a book IN THE SCHOOL’S LIBRARY that contained Christian stories, and used it as the subject of his journal writing assignment.

Yet again, the teacher bristled and told the student she had already warned him about using the Bible for his readings.

The student explained that he’d found it in the school library, but this time the teacher again arbitrarily changed the rules, further compounding the discrimination.

She flat-out demanded he use a different, non-religious book for his next journal entry. She threatened that if he again chose to write about Christian-themed stories, he would be penalized by missing recess to stay inside and complete a different reading exercise and journal entry.

While there are far worse punishments than missing recess, to a child it is hurtful and isolating. And this sort of unchecked religious discrimination in schools sets a horrible precedent. Perhaps worst of all, it confuses and shames kids about their own faith and spiritual identity.

Bottom line: it can never be tolerated.

We quickly provided the family with information explaining the free speech rights of students on campus, including the right to be free from viewpoint-based discrimination by school officials.

We were pleased to report that the administration, after receiving the information we provided, agreed and took the necessary steps to ensure such religious discrimination would not continue.

This is an important victory, as well as a reminder of why me must continue to be vigilant to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today continue for our children tomorrow.

To help the ACLJ continue to have the resources we need to make these victories possible and continue defending students’ religious liberty, please consider making a Tax-Deductible donation to the ACLJ through our year-end Matching Challenge. Your gift will be DOUBLED dollar-for-dollar through the end of the year.

You can read more in the ACLJ’s 2018 Victories series here.

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