First it was schools that banned the singing of Christmas carols.
Then another banned carols played only by instruments with no lyrics being presented.
Now a school district has banned the colors red and green from a “Winter Break Party,” requiring parents to bring only white plates and napkins.
In response to the party policy, as well as many other rules a group of parents and students believe to be rank censorship, a lawsuit has been filed against the Plano Independent School District in Texas to fight back against its “religious hostility,” as one attorney puts it.
Other policies cited in the suit, filed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, include a ban on candy cane distribution when a religious card is attached, a ban on parents giving religious-oriented items to one another on school property and a ban on criticizing school board members or administrators on campus.
“This lawsuit includes a large amount of evidence that demonstrates the pervasive religious hostitlity in Plano ISD,” said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Legal Institute, which, along with Alliance Defense Fund, is representing about 20 clients in the suit.
Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Legal Institute’s chief counsel, noted the suit was purposely filed before Friday, when the white-only Winter Break party is scheduled to occur.
“We asked for a temporary restraining order today to provide protection by this Friday,” he told WorldNetDaily.
Shackelford says if the order is issued by Friday, at the party the students would be allowed to pass out religious items, parents would be able to do the same, and the ban on criticizing school officials would be lifted.
“These policies are a blatant violation of religious freedom and free speech,” he said. “These are school officials who have lost all common sense.”
One item included in the suit is the case of a girl student who was forbidden to invite her friends to an Easter event at her church, according to the law firm.
“We’ve even got a mom who went to the school asking if her daughter at her birthday party could hand out a pencil with ‘Jesus’ on it,” Shackelford told WND, “and the principal got so upset with her that he called the police.
“It’s just unbelievable stuff. We’ve been collecting these things for a year or two. This is a pervasive, district-wide problem of political correctness in the extreme.”
Shackelford said the families’ attorneys worked with the district’s attorney, Richard Abernathy, to try to get the officials to back down on some of the policies, but they did not.
“We filed the federal lawsuit hopefully to put an end to all this nonsense,” Shackelford said.
Shackelford said he didn’t mind if the district engaged in its “silly pretense” that there is no Christmas, but he says it cannot violate the rights of students and parents in the process.
Said Shackelford: “There’s a huge difference between the school putting a sign out that says, ‘We endorse Jesus,’ and telling students and parents that they can’t live out their faith.”
Commenting on the white-only policy for party supplies, Shackeford quipped, “I guess nobody has told them white could symbolize the purity of Christ. They’d probably ban white!”
He says parents have been verbally told the reason for the color restriction was to shun traditional Christmas red and green. Last week, a note went home with students asking parents to bring certain items for the party. Two items listed that some were asked to supply were: “One package small white plates” and “One package white napkins.”
Food being requested included a dozen sugar cookies and a bag of Hersey’s kisses. Liberty Legal Institute says the parents were told not to include any colored icing on the cookies, while Alliance Defense Fund reports children were told not to wear red and green clothing to the party.
Shackelford said the complaint is over 150 pages – “just fact after fact.”
“We are confident that the courts will uphold the fundamental law that school officials may not suppress or exclude the speech of citizens simply because their speech is religious or includes religious content,” Shackelford said.
Gary McCaleb is senior counsel with Alliance Defense Fund.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled that public schools must prohibit the distribution of candy canes or Christmas cards,” he said in a statement. “They have never ruled that you can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ in the public schools. These attempts to stifle all religious expression and sanitize Christmas of all religious content are tiring to the overwhelming majority of Texans and all Americans.”
The lawsuit is known as Jonathan Morgan, et al., v. the Plano Independent School District, et al.
A request for a response from attorney Abernathy’s office had not been fulfilled by press time.