Every December, the ACLJ receives abounding inquiries apropos the acknowledged rules that administer aback there is a religious aspect to a holiday-themed assignment, program, or affair in a accessible school. Recently, we helped to avert the chargeless accent rights of a third brand apprentice in Indiana apropos her accessible school’s Christmas affairs afterwards we were contacted by her parents.
About two weeks afore the school’s Christmas affairs was appointed to booty place, a music abecedary gave third brand acceptance an appointment to draw a Christmas-related annual of their choice. The babe of the ancestors who contacted us drew a Nativity scene. The music abecedary called that cartoon and three added students’ drawings, based on their aesthetic quality, to be featured on the affairs for the accessible Christmas event.
The ancestors was after abreast that, due to a affair over the “separation of abbey and state,” their daughter’s cartoon could not be included in the program. We beatific the ancestors some admonition to altercate with academy administrators. Our email explained that “the academy should not exclude your daughter’s cartoon from the program; the cartoon represents and reflects your daughter’s claimed announcement and viewpoints, not any official bulletin of religious endorsement by the school.”
Our email quoted Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education that explain:
“Students may accurate their behavior about adoration in homework, artwork, and added accounting and articulate assignments chargeless from bigotry based on the religious agreeable of their submissions. Such home and classroom appointment should be advised by accustomed bookish standards of actuality and appliance and adjoin added accepted pedagogical apropos articular by the school. Thus, if a teacher’s appointment involves autograph a poem, the appointment of a apprentice who submits a composition in the anatomy of a adoration (for example, a psalm) should be advised on the base of bookish standards (such as arcane quality) and neither penalized nor adored on annual of its religious content. . . .”
“Student speakers at apprentice assemblies and extracurricular activities such as antic contest may not be called on a base that either favors or disfavors religious speech. Where apprentice speakers are called on the base of absolutely neutral, evenhanded belief and absorb primary ascendancy over the agreeable of their expression, that announcement is not attributable to the academy and accordingly may not be belted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content. . . .”
These Guidelines are based aloft Supreme Court decisions, such as the Board of Education v. Mergens case won by the ACLJ, that admit that “there is a acute aberration amid government accent acknowledging religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and clandestine accent acknowledging religion, which the Chargeless Accent and Chargeless Exercise Clauses protect. We anticipate that accessory academy acceptance are complete abundant and are acceptable to accept that a academy does not endorse or abutment apprentice accent that it alone permits on a abstract basis.”
Our email explained that, “[s]hould your daughter’s cartoon be included in the affairs as originally intended, her announcement would not be attributable to the school. Any reasonable being accessory the affairs would accept that the apprentice assets were created by the acceptance and accurate their own viewpoints.”
The afterward week, we accustomed an email aback saying: “Great news! Thanks to your advice, our academy arch acquainted assured to put my daughter’s cartoon of a bassinet arena on the awning of a Christmas academy affairs [since] her annual was called based on arete and not because it was the religious attitude of the school. . . . [Y]our admonition gave her the aplomb to use it. . . .”
The ACLJ is beholden to accept the befalling to advice avert religious announcement during the Christmas season, and all throughout the year.
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