Freedom of Speech in School


#1

Need some thoughts on this, please...

My son's 6th grade class (public school) is supposed to be making a "Year Book" in computer class. They are supposed to create something that reflects their interests, who they are, what they like, etc. My son began creating crosses on the screen. His teacher told him he cannot do that and, according to my son, the principal told him the same.

Should my son simply comply with the school? Should I encourage him to continue with his project reflecting his religious beliefs? Does he have a right to go against the teacher/principal in this case? Should I call the school and speak with the teacher/principal?

Just need a little guidance here. I want my son to be able to reflect who he is but I also want him to be respectful. Thing is, it's no secret that he's viewed as "the religious one" by his peers. And he's not afraid to carry the label. Just not sure if this particular battle is worth it.

Thanks in advance for your responses!


#2

I'm not sure if any of us can or should give out legal advice. You might want to contact a local Christian lawyer...

Sorry...


#3

Prayers for you!

I beleive you need to contact the teacher and principal yourself to get specific details about the purpose of the assignment and the guidelines.

Currently all you have to go by is what your son is telling you. Of course your son is telling you what he understands but it is possible that he did not grasp everything because, after all he is still a child.

Once you have clarity then it will be time to make a decision what to do.


#4

I’ve found that Freedom of Speech means that you’re free to speak so long as it’s not the truth - and in that case, you might as well shut up (in their thinking) because that’s what government will eventually make you do.


#5

I would ask to see the policy on yearbook content. They likely won’t be able to produce one.

While there isn’t an unlimited right to free speech in schools, you likely have a good case on this one-- the assignment was to create something that represents the child’s personal interests.

Thomas More Law Center and Alliance Defence Fund take these sorts of cases.


#6

[quote="mom2three, post:1, topic:234488"]
Need some thoughts on this, please...

My son's 6th grade class (public school) is supposed to be making a "Year Book" in computer class. They are supposed to create something that reflects their interests, who they are, what they like, etc. My son began creating crosses on the screen. His teacher told him he cannot do that and, according to my son, the principal told him the same.

Should my son simply comply with the school? Should I encourage him to continue with his project reflecting his religious beliefs? Does he have a right to go against the teacher/principal in this case? Should I call the school and speak with the teacher/principal?

Just need a little guidance here. I want my son to be able to reflect who he is but I also want him to be respectful. Thing is, it's no secret that he's viewed as "the religious one" by his peers. And he's not afraid to carry the label. Just not sure if this particular battle is worth it.

Thanks in advance for your responses!

[/quote]

In public education, the 1st Amendment applies to everything except Christianity, because Christianity is viewed as offensive.

I would stand up for this one. They asked for him to show who he is and what he is interested in. He can be respectful and still include his faith. Would they censor a Muslim?

This fine nation of ours was built upon Judeo-Christian values, as you know. If we Christians can't even speak about our faith without someone being offended and telling us to hush, we're in a world of trouble. Yes, it's time to stand up for what's right.


#7

I think this one is worth bringing up with the teacher/principal. I would leave aside talking about free speech and the like, at least in the beginning, and start with something like “you asked my son to represent who he is. Our religion is part of who we are. Forbidding that as part of the answer is requiring dishonesty and denying the importance that religion plays in people’s lives, and, at worst, sending the message that it isn’t a legitimate part of us.”

I’d suggest saving the “the constitution/law allows me to” approach until (and hopefully unless) things get ugly.


#8

I would insist the school board provide a written decision from their lawyer that the scope of the school yearbook assignment prohibits any student from making any statement of personal beliefs. It all depends of course on what the nature of the "yearbook" project is. For instance, the school is within rights in taking yearbook pictures if it prohibits wearing anything that is against the dress code. But if the assignment was for each student to create their own page reflecting their own beliefs, likes, personality etc. that is more likely to have free speech protection. Bear in mind, free speech ends the minute you are off public on to private territory.


#9

[quote="mom2three, post:1, topic:234488"]
Need some thoughts on this, please...

My son's 6th grade class (public school) is supposed to be making a "Year Book" in computer class. They are supposed to create something that reflects their interests, who they are, what they like, etc. My son began creating crosses on the screen. His teacher told him he cannot do that and, according to my son, the principal told him the same.

Should my son simply comply with the school? Should I encourage him to continue with his project reflecting his religious beliefs? Does he have a right to go against the teacher/principal in this case? Should I call the school and speak with the teacher/principal?

Just need a little guidance here. I want my son to be able to reflect who he is but I also want him to be respectful. Thing is, it's no secret that he's viewed as "the religious one" by his peers. And he's not afraid to carry the label. Just not sure if this particular battle is worth it.

Thanks in advance for your responses!

[/quote]

There may be a few issues here, but I have a question. Is the "Yearbook" something clearly made by the student for the student; or is it a contribution to a school publication?

If the latter, the school may have a concern that it is violating the separation. However, I would think that could be addressed by a disclaimer.

If the former, there may be a different concern. Let's suppose that a student wanted to create a "Yearbook" that involved Wicca, or some form of Satanism. I can imagine that this would be an issue for the school However, the school can't ban just this, because if they do, it is creating a preference for another religion and then violates the concept of separation. So their way around it may be to ban all spiritual beliefs.

It is worth a discussion with the teachdf and principal, and I think the discussion should be on understanding the assignment, understanding who's publication the work is, and understanding their reason for the restriction.

Take notes. Tell them you hope they don't mind you taking a few notes, in case your husband has any questions.

Once the discussion is over, then you can decide on the appropriate next step, be it an explanation to your son, or a conversation with your attorney.


#10

Could it be that everyone is aware of his faith and his teacher is asking him to choose something else to be more creative? Like all of those 'what I did on my summer vacation' essays where the writing teachers would say, do something DIFFERENT from the same old topics. Maybe the teacher just wants him to show something else. Is the teacher challenging anyone else that way? For example if there is a child who always talks about her interest in mathematics, maybe the teacher wants her to portray another interest for the yearbook.

Just wondering. It's worth asking the teacher. Even though his faith is basic to who he is, I know teachers can get picky about being original or creative on these types of assignments.


#11

Ask your teacher's motives. If your son was "making crosses" was the teacher objecting becuase it was religious, or as another poster suggested because it seems lazy....especally for a child of 12 or 13.

I'm confused as to why the princible was called.

If the teacher simply wanted something more creative than a bunch of "t"'s all over the page then don't get worried. It's her perrogitiave to try to encourage students to think outside the box, even if your son "likes" a blank white page with crosses on it better.

If the teacher was being anti-christian. As it's been said. Get a lawyer.


#12

My knowledge of American law is somewhat limited (I actually have nine years of law study under my belt but only one year of American law and then not a densely packed one) and I’m certainly not up to date with or well-versed in SCOTUS case laws but it seems to me that unless the reason is something outside religion (which doesn’t seem probable to me given that your son started creating the crosses and the teacher said, “you can’t do that”), or an equal “ban” is an all religious expression (which would not necessarily be constitutional), the school is falling victim of Christianity-phobia. I don’t think they have a strong case either way.

I second the suggestion to ask for a written policy and a statement from their attorney, in addition to details of the task.

But I wouldn’t oppose them if they said that, say, some religious symbols are okay but they want to see more about you in the picture. After all, one could create some depictions of actually living out the faith in his life in connection with a non-repeated symbol.

As for separation, I would use it as an argument to resist administrative propagation of atheism or agnosticism (wherein simple indifference also fits).


#13

Roman Catholic Doctrine Vs. The Doctrinal Teaching of the Word of God

Eternal life is a merited reward [1821, 2010]. - Roman Catholicism
Eternal life is the free gift of God (Romans 6:23)

No one can know if he will attain eternal life [1036, 2005] - Roman Catholicism
The believer can know that he has eternal life by the Word of God (1 John 5:13)

The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation [846]. - Roman Catholicism
There is salvation in no one but the Lord Jesus Christ, “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Purgatory is necessary to atone for sin and clean the soul [1030-1031]. - Roman Catholicism
Purgatory does not exist. Jesus made purification for sins on the cross (Hebrews 1:3)

Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin from the first instant of her conception (the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception) [490-492].
Mary, a descendant of Adam, was born in sin (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12)

Mary is the Mother of the Church [963, 975]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary was the earthly mother of Jesus ( John 2:1)

The Magisterium is the authoritative teacher of the Church. [85-87]. - Roman Catholicism
The Holy Spirit is the authoritative teacher of the church (John 14:26; John 16:13, I John 2:27)

The pope, as the Bishop of Rome, is the successor of Peter [882, 936] - Roman Catholicism
Peter had no successor, nor was he a pope.

The pope is infallible in his authoritative teaching [891]. - Roman Catholicism
God alone is infallible (Numbers 23:19)

Scripture and Tradition together are the Word of God [81, 85, 97, 182]. - Roman Catholicism
Scripture is the Word of God (John 10:35, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21). Tradition is the words of men (Mark 7:1-13).

The sacrificial work of redemption is continually carried out through the Sacrifice of the Mass. [1364,1405, 1846]. - Roman Catholicism
The sacrificial work of redemption was finished when Christ gave His life for us on the cross (Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 1:3).

God desires that consecrated bread and wine be worshiped as divine. [1378-1381] - Roman Catholicism
God forbids the worship of any object, even t hose intended to represent Him (Exodus 20:4-5, Isaiah 42:8)

Justification is lost through mortal sin [1033, 1855, 1874] - Roman Catholicism
Justification cannot be lost. Those whom God justifies will be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9).

Justification is furthered by sacraments and good works [1212, 1392, 2010] - Roman Catholicism
Justification is the imputation of the perfect righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ the believer has been made complete (Colossians 2:10).

Salvation is attained by cooperating with grace through faith, good works, and participation in the sacraments [183, 1129, 1815, 2002]. - Roman Catholicism
Salvation is attained by grace through faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Good works are the result, not the cause, of salvation (Ephesians 2:10).

Mary, “the All-Holy,” lived a perfectly sinless life [411, 493]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary was a sinner; God alone is sinless (Luke 18:19, Romans 3:23, Revelation 15:4).

Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ [496-511]. - Roman Catholicism
Mary remained a virgin until after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25). Later she had other children (Matthew 13:55-56, Psalm 69:8).

Each Sacrifice of the Mass appeases God’s wrath against sin [1371, 1414]. - Roman Catholicism
The once-for-all sacrifice of the cross fully appeased God’s wrath against sin. (Hebrews 10:12-18).

The Bishops, with the Pope, as their head, rule the universal church. [883, 894-896]. - Roman Catholicism
Christ, the head of the body is the Head of the Church. (Colossians 1:18).

The faithful receive the benefits of the cross in fullest measure through the Sacrifice of the Mass [1366, 1407]. - Roman Catholicism
Believers receive the benefits of the cross in fullest measure in Christ through faith (Ephesians 1:3-14).

God has exalted Mary in heavenly glory as Queen of Heaven and Earth [966]. She is to be praised with special devotion [971, 2675]. - Roman Catholicism
The name of the Lord is to be praised, for He alone is exalted above heaven and earth (Psalm 148:13). God commands, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3).

Mary is the co-mediator to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions 9 968-970, 2677] - Roman Catholicism
Christ Jesus is the one mediator to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions (1 Timothy 2:5, John 14:13-14, 1 Peter 5:7).

Mary is the co-redeemer, for she participate with Christ in the painful act of redemption [618, 964, 968, 970]. - Roman Catholicism
Christ alone is the Redeemer, for He alone suffered and died for sin (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated in the Sacrifice of the Mass [1323, 1382] - Roman Catholicism
The Sacrifice of the cross is finished (John 19:30).

Indulgences dispensed by the Church for acts of piety release sinners from temporal punishment [1471-1473]. - Roman Catholicism
Jesus releases believers from their sins by His blood. (Revelation 1:5).

The Magisterium has the right to define truth found only obscurely or implicitly in revelation. [66, 88, 2035, 2051]. - Roman Catholicism
No one has the right to go beyond what is written in Scripture (1 Corinthians 4:6, Proverbs 30:5-6).

Scripture and Tradition together are the Church’s supreme role of faith [80, 82]. - Roman Catholicism
Scripture is the church’s rule of faith (Mark 7:7-13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).


#14

[quote="Iron_Donkey, post:7, topic:234488"]
I think this one is worth bringing up with the teacher/principal. I would leave aside talking about free speech and the like, at least in the beginning, and start with something like "you asked my son to represent who he is. Our religion is part of who we are. Forbidding that as part of the answer is requiring dishonesty and denying the importance that religion plays in people's lives, and, at worst, sending the message that it isn't a legitimate part of us."

I'd suggest saving the "the constitution/law allows me to" approach until (and hopefully unless) things get ugly.

[/quote]

I'm sorry you are going through this. I have two in public schools and they are not bound by any such rules. In fact my daughter had to draw a collage picture that represented her. She included a Rosary and a bible (with a cross on the cover.) It went on display on parent's night along with many other student's work who alos included the bible.

Your son's teachers are making this rule up, and a gentle approach as the above poster recommended may be a great way to go about this. I think you should definitly say something.


#15

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:6, topic:234488"]
In public education, the 1st Amendment applies to everything except Christianity, because Christianity is viewed as offensive.

I would stand up for this one. They asked for him to show who he is and what he is interested in. He can be respectful and still include his faith. Would they censor a Muslim?

This fine nation of ours was built upon Judeo-Christian values, as you know. If we Christians can't even speak about our faith without someone being offended and telling us to hush, we're in a world of trouble. Yes, it's time to stand up for what's right.

[/quote]

No, the First Amendment doesn't apply to everything except Christianity in public schools. Five minutes of Google research would tell you this. Sexual inuendo, drug promotion and dress codes. Just three things that don't have First Amendment protections in schools.


#16

Curious about an update?


#17

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