The Alliance Defense Fund on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against a school district in Nederland, Texas, after instructors told a third-grader he couldn’t distribute handwritten invitations to his Bible club before class.
The child, who attends Hillcrest Elementary School, had permission from his teacher to invite classmates to his church’s AWANA club, so long as he invited all of them; school policy requires it so that no students feel excluded. The student agreed, though he specifically wanted to invite only two of his classmates.
But the same teacher later stopped the student from passing out the invitations before class, explaining to the child’s father that the district superintendent had told the principal to stop it. Under school policy, the principal must review any invitations to 10 or more students before they can be distributed; however, invitations to off-campus events like birthday parties have been allowed to proceed unimpeded.
“All students should have the freedom to express their beliefs,” Alliance Defense Fund Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco said. “Schools shouldn’t marginalize students who want to do good because of their faith. The school district can avoid needless litigation by simply respecting this third-grader’s constitutionally protected right to hand invitations to his fellow classmates during non-instructional time, as other students have been allowed to do.”