Victory: School District Grants Equal Access to Religious Speech

aclj featureCECE HEIL, ACLJ

The ACLJ applauds the policy change of a California school district to allow an afterschool Bible study group to distribute flyers to students.

In 2012, a Church in California contacted the ACLJ regarding a local school district policy which unfairly discriminated against religious groups. The school district’s policy allowed distribution of material/flyers on school grounds by outside groups but prohibited distribution of religious material by religious organizations.

The Church runs an after school Bible class program called Release Time Religious and Moral Instruction program (allowed under California Law) to provide Bible-based “moral and character building” instruction to students. However, the church had limited access to schools in order to distribute invitation flyers to students.

In September 2012, we provided the church with in informational letter, informing the church about its rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The church pastor met with the Superintendent and gave him a copy of our letter. The Superintendent agreed to consult with the school district’s attorneys and revisit the policy. In October 2012, we were informed that the school district agreed to change the policy.

As of February 2013, the school district policy was changed, removing the discriminatory prohibition on religious organizations and now allows school principals to use their discretion to allow flyers to be passed out if they are seen as beneficial to students.

In September 2013, the Church delivered over 3,000 flyers to Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth grade students, inviting them to participate in their Release Time Religious and Moral Instruction program.

This is a great victory for religious freedom and the rights of students.

The Moral Liberal recommends Jay Sekulow’s: Witnessing Their Faith: Religious Influence on Supreme Court Justices and Their Opinions

CeCe Heil is a Senior Counsel for the ACLJ specializing in public policy and global legal matters including the United Nations.

Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.