Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Free Speech for Conservative Students?
It sounded like a freedom-of-religion case when a Columbus, Texas high school relay-race team was disqualified from the state track championship because Derrick Hayes pointed heavenward after his team won the race. That would seem odd in a red state like Texas. It turned out that officials were so strict, they warned runners to make no hand gestures after the finish line. Hayes had apparently pointed forward, and then upward, and for that he was out.

It can be tough to be a student in today's public schools. Never mind restrictions on the schools. It is becoming impossible to express a socially conservative or Christian viewpoint — as a student. Across the land, everyone is ordered to welcome without a discouraging word any expression of the gay or transgender variety. But try to say the G-word or oppose abortion, and watch someone lower the boom.

—In Minnesota, a sixth-grade student was prohibited by her public school from distributing pro-life pamphlets during lunchtime. One of the fliers read, "Save the baby humans. Stop abortion."

A few days later, she was called into the school director's office and told that some students find pro-life fliers offensive and that she was no longer allowed to pass them out during or after school hours, even if other students requested them. In an email to the student's parents, the school's executive director claimed that the content of the fliers was inconsistent with the school's educational mission.

"The school has a right to censor students without violating their free speech," the director wrote. "In short, public schools have every right to prohibit student speech."

Lawyers at the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit on May 3. "Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas," said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. "The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of their religious or political beliefs."

—In New Mexico, a group of evangelical high school students aligned with the "Church on the Move" lost a round last month in their fight to give classmates two-inch "fetus dolls" with a pro-life message attached. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the school district's authority to stop the doll distribution. Why?

The 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District established that students have free speech in schools, as long as it doesn't disrupt school discipline. According to Education Week, teachers complained that students who had received the roughly 300 dolls that were handed out were throwing the dolls across classrooms, using them to plug toilets and in other ways causing serious disruptions in the school day.

There are no reports of any legal or disciplinary actions taken against the students responsible for vandalism.

—In Michigan, the Students for Life chapter at Eastern Michigan University applied for student fee funding to host a display on campus called the Genocide Awareness Project, a traveling photo-mural exhibit which compares the contemporary genocide of abortion to other forms of genocide. EMU denied the funding request because they deemed the photos of the aborted babies and the event as too controversial and one-sided. But they've granted money to left-wing activist groups discussing "welfare rights," as well as race-issues and abortion rights groups.

Of course, all the old anti-prayer bias remains. In Arkansas, the Riverside School district in Lake City decided not to allow a sixth-grade graduation this year. Saying a prayer at this ceremony had never been an issue before. Predictably, the school district decided to cancel the graduation ceremony after just one parent came out and protested the prayer — and the school received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Sometimes, there's still a win. A Texas state judge has just ruled that banners displayed at football games by cheerleaders at Kountze High School quoting Bible verses were "constitutionally permissible." At first, the school district stopped the banners after the Freedom From Religion Foundation protested. But after a public meeting in February, the school board of trustees issued the weakest of resolutions in which it wrote that the district was not required to ban messages on school banners that displayed "fleeting expressions of community sentiment solely because the source or origin of such messages is religious."

That "fleeting expressions" language can spur a smile. Just as federal judges have ruled that it's acceptable for broadcast television networks to air "fleeting" expressions of profanity while children watch at home, schools in religious communities might allow impressionable youth to be exposed to "fleeting" expressions in favor of God.


Georgia School Bans Religious Graduation Songs

A Georgia school district will no longer allow prayers or songs with religious references at graduation ceremonies after a Wisconsin group threatened to file a lawsuit and suggested that forcing non-Christian students to listen to religious music was a form of bullying.

“If the valedictorians want to thank their parents, grandparents and god, that’s freedom of speech,” Houston County Superintendent Robin Hines told the Macon Telegraph. “We can’t stop that. As long as it’s not lewd, they can say whatever they want.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the school district a letter complaining that last year’s graduation ceremony included prayers and a musical performance of a song written by a Christian artist.

“It is wholly inappropriate for Christian worship songs to be performed in a public school setting or at public school events,” wrote FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel. “There are a multitude of secular songs that would be appropriate.”

The FFRF took offense to “Find Your Wings,” a song written by well-known Christian artist Mark Harris, arguing that it was a blatantly religious song that “belongs in a church, not a public school event.”

“I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams and that faith gives you the courage to dare to do great things,” read the lyrics.

The FFRF alleged the song excluded non-evangelical Christians, Jewish, Muslim and non-religious students and their families. They said the song breached the district’s obligation to remain neutral on religion.

“Public schools should not be seeking out songs that exclude students and create a divisive environment,” Seidel wrote. “Bullying is rampant and on social media and Houston County Schools should be striving to find inclusive, secular songs that all can enjoy without compromising their own personal beliefs.”

The FFRF demanded that the district also cease all graduation prayers – noting that such behavior is against the law.

“Even when student-delivered, the Supreme Court has found these prayers unconstitutional,” Seidel wrote.

The school superintendent told the local newspaper that the school district doesn’t have a choice. They must follow the law.

The Macon Telegraph heralded the district’s decision and said it was prudent to follow the law and not incur legal expenses.

“We are a pluralistic society with many faiths and beliefs,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial. “Parents want their children indoctrinated in their family’s faith. That faith is not always Christianity. After all, it’s a parent’s job to teach their children in their religious tradition, not the school’s.”

But not everyone agrees with the decision.

“It’s an attack on the Christian faith,” said Bobby Nix, youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Perry. “We’re heading towards a Godless society.”

Nix told Fox News that he understands why the school district did what they did – but he said there comes a time when people have to take a stand.

“I hope our kids will stand up – not to be ugly about it – but to stand up for their rights they have in Christ – their constitutional rights,” he told Fox News.

Parent Terri Minter told the Telegraph that she was disappointed in the superintendent.

“I cannot for the life for me understand what in the world would cause him to be afraid to stand firm to his beliefs,” she said. “Just because you have the voice of a few that don’t want it, we should not have to be afraid.”

But the FFRF’s Seidel said it doesn’t matter if just one person objects to the religious-themed song or prayers.

“It makes no difference how many students want prayer or wouldn’t be offended by prayers at their graduation ceremony,” he wrote. “The School District has a duty to remain neutral toward religion.”


Shock as 84 schools have NO white British pupils at all... double the number of five years ago

More than 80 state schools in England have no white British pupils, Government figures show.

The number of such schools appears to have more than doubled over the past five years, and the findings will fuel concerns that some parts of the country are becoming increasingly segregated.

The new figures follow research showing that white Britons are retreating from areas dominated by ethnic minorities, to be replaced by immigrants and other ethnic minorities.

Critics said that the previous Labour Government’s ‘open-door’ immigration policy had created ‘huge’ problems for integration, which was now threatening the country’s social cohesion.

The Department for Education figures, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, show that 84 schools recorded last year that no pupils on their rolls were white British. Of those, 67 are primaries, eight secondaries and the remainder special or pupil referral units.

The statistics, derived from the annual school census, found that the highest concentration is in Birmingham, with 22 such schools, followed by Oldham with eight, Leicester with seven and the London borough of Tower Hamlets with six.

Other local authority areas in which there are at least two schools with no white British pupils include Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Lancashire, Rochdale, Surrey, Walsall and Worcester, as well as the London boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, and Southwark. The schools, which were not named, are likely to include England’s 11 state Muslim schools, three state Sikh schools and one state Hindu school.

One school that is understood to have no white British pupils is Gladstone Primary in Peterborough, which is dominated by students from the Punjab, with smaller groups from Afghanistan and Lithuania. None of its 440 pupils has English as a first language.

In 2008, the Department of Education said there were 31 state schools that had recorded no white children on their rolls – including children of white migrants.

MigrationWatch’s Sir Andrew Green said: ‘This is yet another indication of the huge impact of Labour mass migration policies on our society.

‘The result of three million immigrants in ten years has created a huge problem for integration of the newcomers. Obviously, if there are no children of the host community in a school, the prospects of integration are close to zero.

‘In the longer term, this is bound to effect the cohesion of our society as a whole.’

The new figures follow a study published earlier this month by the Left-leaning think tank Demos which showed white Britons are moving out of areas where they are in a minority at the same time as the ethnic minority population was growing.

The study said that 45 per cent of ethnic minorities in England and Wales, about four million people, live in areas where less than half the population is white British.

Demos director David Goodhart said the number of schools with no white British pupils was ‘depressingly high’ because it suggested there must be many others where the proportion of such pupils was tiny.


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