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School Locker

Gilio v. The School Board of Hillsborough County

Last Updated 7/21/2022

What's at stake

The freedom of students to share their faith at school without fear of censorship or punishment

Students being told that they can't invite their friends and classmates to church or other religious activities

Summary

J.G., a student at Lewis Elementary School in Tampa, Florida, is a devout Christian who wanted to share his faith with his classmates. When his church announced that it would be sponsoring several Easter Egg Hunts throughout the area, J.G. saw a perfect opportunity to invite his friends to learn about the true meaning of Easter. J.G. brought several invitations to school to give out to his classmates during free time. But when he requested permission to distribute them, he was told he needed permission from the principal. Later that day, the principal returned the invitations with a note attached, stating that J.G. was "not allowed to pass out fliers related to religious events or activities."

J.G. and his family contacted Alliance Defending Freedom, and together we filed a lawsuit to challenge the school's actions along with its written policies that banned the distribution of religious materials at all schools in the school district. The district court ruled in J.G.'s favor and barred the school from enforcing its policies that targeted religious expression for discrimination. Shortly thereafter, the school district revised its policies to remove the unconstitutional prohibitions against religious speech.

Building upon this important victory, Alliance Defending Freedom continues to fight for students like J.G. who are told that their religious expression is not welcome inside the schoolhouse gates.  

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented J.G. in the defense of his rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Biographies

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Matt Sharp
Matt Sharp
Senior Counsel, State Government Relations National Director
Matt Sharp serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he directs the Center for Legislative Advocacy.
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Jeremy Tedesco
Jeremy Tedesco
Senior Counsel, Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement
Jeremy Tedesco serves as senior counsel and senior vice president of communications for Alliance Defending Freedom.