On Monday in New Orleans, a case will be heard that may determine whether students in elementary schools have First Amendment rights. While it seems ludicrous that the very place in which they're learning about our nation's freedoms they would be banned from exercising them, the threat is very real.
The case to be heard by the Fifth Circuit Court came about from several incidents in Plano, Texas, including the "Candy Cane Case," in which two boys were handing out candy cane pens at their "Winter Party" that had religious sentiments inscribed on them. Other incidents included in the case involved a girl who handed out tickets to her religious play and a class of children that was banned from writing "Merry Christmas" on cards to be sent to U.S. troops in December.
Whether you're religious or not, the potential of this ruling is frightening.
In a statement, Kelly Shackelford, Esq., president and CEO of Liberty Institute, spoke to just how dire the consequences could be if the court rules against children's freedom of speech in school.
This case will impact every current and future elementary student in the nation. Everyone who is a parent or grandparent or just cares about the future of this country should be concerned. If this court rules that elementary students have no First Amendment rights, then neither students nor their parents will have any recourse against religious discrimination, like occurred in this case. It would be a massive shift of power away from citizens and families to the government.
I believe strongly in the need for separation of church and state, but it's appalling how often individual rights get trampled in the quest to keep them separate. Trying to censor what our children say and do in schools is as un-American as anything I can imagine.
Like anything else, if a student is unruly or causing a major disturbance, then the school should have the authority to deal with him or her on a one-on-one basis. But if students want to discuss and share their beliefs in a way they'd share their enthusiasm for their favorite baseball team, then they shouldn't be censored just because they want to share their love for Jesus, or Muhammad, or any other religious figure. Education should be about our children learning to explore and debate the world around them, not about sheltering them from it.
Do you think children should have freedom of speech in schools?
Image via ctj70181/Flickr