When Lydia Booth went to school wearing her favorite “Jesus Loves Me” mask, she just wanted to share the love of Jesus with those around her.
“It makes me feel like I’m protected by Jesus,” she said of the mask. “And it makes me think people will think it’s a great mask, and that Jesus is a great God, and a great Savior.”
Schools officials did take notice of Lydia’s mask. But not exactly in the way she was hoping.
Instead, the school made Lydia remove her “Jesus Loves Me” mask and replace it with a different one, citing a school policy that prohibited masks with political or religious messages. The thing is, Lydia’s mom, Jennifer, looked through the handbook and the dress code, she reached out to a few other parents, and she couldn’t find the policy that kept Lydia from wearing this mask to school. On top of that, other children at school wore masks displaying college logos, professional sports team logos, and “Black Lives Matter.”
But school administrators didn’t back down. And Lydia was subject to discipline if she wore the mask to school again.
So, the Booth family reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom, and we filed a lawsuit against the school district on Lydia’s behalf.
School officials can’t pick and choose which messages students are allowed to express and which they aren’t. And they certainly can’t single out religious speech for worse treatment than other types of speech.
If masks expressing other beliefs and views are allowed, then “Jesus Loves Me” should be allowed as well.
Our Constitution requires as much. And the school district has a duty to uphold its students’ constitutional rights.
And even though the case remains ongoing, there is a silver lining: It’s not only school administrators who have taken notice of Lydia’s mask.
One of Lydia’s classmates saw her mask and wanted one just like it. Another friend’s older sister, after hearing about the case, decided to read the entire Bible.
Two sisters, after hearing Lydia’s story, wrote her these heartwarming and encouraging notes.
“It’s powerful for my kids to see other kids being a witness for Christ and even living through some persecution for it,” wrote their mom.
It’s powerful for all of us, isn’t it?
And Lydia’s story is exactly why we do what we do here at ADF. We advocate for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, free speech, and parental rights in courtrooms across the nation in order to “keep the doors open for the Gospel.”
To keep the doors open for people like Lydia to go and boldly proclaim that Jesus is a great God and a great Savior.
Because that is the most important message of all.
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