A lawsuit has been filed against the Huntington Beach, California, City School District for banning students from sharing information with each other about a promotional “Bring Your Bible to School” day.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in California by the non-profit Freedom X Law on behalf of Holly and Jason Bausch, who have two children in the school district.
The complaint charges the district violated the First Amendment and other constitutional rights of the children by ordering them not to exchange information on brochures with other students about the annual event.
The event is sponsored by Focus on the Family, the evangelical Christian organization founded by Dr. James Dobson.
“For several years, Focus on the Family has sponsored its nationwide Bring Your Bible to School Day event designed to empower students to celebrate religious freedom – and share God’s hope with their friends – by taking a simple action: bringing their Bible to school,” the legal team said.
“Under well-settled constitutional law, the First Amendment applies to all student oral expression and literature distribution during non-instructional time, regardless of religious content. School officials may not prohibit this expression out of fear that allowing religious speech will offend some members of the community,” Freedom X explained.
“This, by the way, is a school district that has no trouble teaching Islam. But that’s another story. When the two brothers sought to obtain the school’s permission, they were in for a rude awakening. Despite being provided with a legal analysis explaining the boys’ right to hand out their flyers, the school’s principal, Constance E. Polhemus, responded to their mother, ‘As a public school we cannot approve the distribution of religious materials to students during school hours.'”
District officials declined to respond to a WND request for comment.
“Principal Polhemus and the Huntington Beach City School District are about to learn a hard lesson in constitutional law,” said Freedom X president and chief counsel Bill Becker.
“Students, regardless of grade level, have a First Amendment right to express a religious viewpoint to another student, including the right to distribute religious flyers, without fear,” he said.
“One wonders how school administrators come to believe that the voluntary expression of religious viewpoints in a public school is somehow forbidden but everything else (including the perverse indoctrination of LGBT propaganda) is permissible.”
The complaint explains that the boys wanted to exchange information with friends during noninstructional time, such as lunch and recess. The principal, however, declared they could give friends information only before or after the school day.
But that, the complaint argues, violates not only the First Amendment but also the 14th Amendment.
The school, after all, lets students hand out flyers with “non-religious” messages during those times, it argues.
But the principal’s decision regarding the Bible promotion was that as “a public school we cannot approve the distribution of religious materials to students during school hours.”
When the parents presented the school with a legal memorandum that explains students’ rights include handing out brochures during non-instructional time, “regardless of religious content,” the school still was uncooperative, the claim says.
The plaintiffs had received flyers distributed by other students and by the school on prior occasions during the school day, including those from Boys & Girls Club and a chess club.
The Bible brochures should be handled the same way, the case contends.
The complaint alleges violations of the First Amendment’s free speech and religious exercise clauses, as well as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process provisions. It seeks a declaration of the constitutional violations, nominal damages for loss of constitutional rights and compensatory and punitive damages.