Student barred from passing out religious flyers questioning evolution and promoting creationism to classmates at school files suit against California district
KXTV News 10 reports that Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a legal advocacy group that defends individuals’ religious liberties, has filed suit against Loomis Union School District (LUSD) on behalf of a student at Loomis Basin Charter School who was prohibited from passing out flyers questioning the teaching of evolution in public schools to classmates during lunch. The flyers came from Genesis Apologetics, which offers seminars to parents and students on “Biblical Creation.”
The unidentified sixth grader asserts that the teaching of evolution in her science class is contrary to her religious beliefs. When she was discovered distributing the flyers, she claims that she was reprimanded by school officials and prohibited from passing out religious flyers without approval.
According to Kevin Snider, PJI’s chief counsel, “She’s not seeking the school to pass these out to everyone. She’s passing them out on her own to individuals.” Snider added, “They want students to present literature to the school for preview and for the school to fix disclaimer. We say that’s not what the constitution provides for.”
In responding to the suit, LUSD’s superintendent issued a statement that reads in part: “Loomis Union School District respects and values freedom of speech among students, including their right to discuss their religious beliefs with classmates. What’s at issue in this case is whether the district’s policy regarding student-distribution of promotional materials is enforceable under state law.”
LUSD policy mandates that all materials must be submitted to the school before being passed out by a student. If they meet the distribution standard, they must have a disclaimer making it clear that the materials are not endorsed by the district.
Source: KXTV News 10, 11/18/14, By Carlos Saucedo
[Editor's Note: On November 17, 2014, Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reported that Orange County School Board (FL) is considering changing its materials distribution policy, which currently allows religious groups to distribute religious material, such as Bibles, at public high schools. The impetus for the change is that a group known as The Satanic Temple (ST), recently announced that they wanted to disseminate material on the “philosophy and practice of Satanism.”
ST's demand came after atheists had secured the right to counter the distribution of Bibles. The board will vote in the next few months on whether to alter or eliminate the policy. The Post article observes, "Perhaps ironically, the Satanic Temple will applaud if religious materials are banned because it believes strongly in the separation of church and state."
Available on NSBA's website is a chart on distribution of religious materials that provides a compilation of federal court decisions regarding in-school distribution of religious materials and other materials from non-school entities.]