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Supreme Court of the United States

Turton v. Frenchtown Elementary School District Board of Education

Last Updated: 5/29/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • The freedom of students to share their religious beliefs at school without fear of censorship or punishment
  • Students being told that they can't use religious songs or materials in school talent shows

Summary

Olivia Turton loved to sing, particularly songs that she had learned in church. So when her elementary school announced it was hosting a "Frenchtown Idol" Talent Show, Olivia saw the perfect opportunity to showcase her love of music. She chose Rich Mullins' song "Awesome God." But when Olivia presented the song to her teacher for approval, she was told that the lyrics were "too religious." After appeals to the school board failed, Olivia and her family called Alliance Defending Freedom for help.

Olivia filed a lawsuit challenging the censorship of her talent. And the court ruled in her favor, finding that "the Board’s refusal to allow [Olivia] to perform the song ‘Awesome God’ at the Frenchtown Elementary School talent show amounted to unlawful viewpoint discrimination."

Building upon victories like this, Alliance Defending Freedom continues to fight for students such as Olivia who are told that their religious expression is not welcome inside the schoolhouse gates.  

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented Olivia in the defense of her rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Resources

Legal Documents

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