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Battle Cry
"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" Gal. 4:16

Christian Students: Know Your Rights

Issue Date: January/February 2000

The Christian Law Association reports that they are getting increasingly frequent calls from students in government schools who are being disciplined for sharing their faith with fellow students. It is important that students know their rights and that Christian parents watch for over-zealous school officials who violate these rights.

Following is a list of Rights of Christian Students published by CLA:

  • Nonsectarian, non-proselytizing, student-initiated prayer at public school-related events is permitted in Florida, George, Alabama, provided there is no oversight or supervision from the school. More than likely the same standards would apply in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
  • Students in every state are free to personally express themselves in prayer, such as before a meal, a sporting event, or a test.
  • Students may read the Bible or other devotional material during free-reading times or study hall.
  • Students may use note-books, pencils, and other material with religious logos or sayings, including Bible verses.
  • Christian messages on T-shirts, other clothing, or jewelry may be worn unless there is a school uniform requirement that applies equally to everyone. For example, it is a violation of a student's free-speech rights for a principal to require that a student turn his pro-life T-shirt inside out while at school.
  • Student may write book reports, present speeches, prepare show-and-tell displays, or do artwork using religious themes, provided such assignments closely follow the teacher's instructions. For example, when an assignment calls for students to bring in their favorite books to read to the class, a teacher must permit a Christian student to read from the Christian book he describes as his favorite.
  • Religious viewpoints may be shared as part of general class discussions when appropriate to the topic.
  • Equal access to school newspapers must be given to Christian students on the same basis as is given to students with a non-Christian point of view.
  • Students may sing religious music in a general concert program; such music is not devotional in a concert setting but has general historical and cultural value.
  • Students may gather on their own time for devotions before or after the school day.
  • Student may distribute Christian literature to fellow students or teachers on school grounds outside class hours.
  • Voluntary, student-initiated Bible clubs may meet on public secondary school premises during non-instructional time if other non-curriculum related student groups are also permitted to meet.
  • In Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Utah a student volunteer may deliver nonsectarian and non-proselytizing invocations and benedictions at public high school graduation ceremonies.
  • All over this country, a student may speak of God and may offer a prayer in a nonsectarian and non-proselytizing way in a student address at graduation.

Further information about student's rights and help in specific cases of the violation of these rights can be obtained by contacting Christian Law Association, (727) 399-8300, PO Box 4010, Seminole, FL 33775 or visit http://www.christianlaw.org.

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