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ADF achieves victory for valedictorian

School agrees to drop requirement that student’s speech be "secular"
Published On: 10/18/2017

VICTOR, IA—The Alliance Defense Fund won another victory for free speech and religious expression this week when the principal of an Iowa high school rescinded his requirement that a student make his valedictory speech "secular."  ADF wrote a letter that explained the law, and the principal agreed to drop his demand to censor the speech.

"Students do not leave their constitutional rights at the foot of the podium at graduation.  School officials must not mask hostility to religion under the mantle of the Establishment Clause," said Kevin Theriot, an attorney with the Kansas City office of the Alliance Defense Fund. 

Matthew Reynolds is a graduating senior at HLV Junior-Senior High School in Victor, Iowa.  He accumulated the highest grade point average in his class.  His valedictorian speech, slated for May 23, expresses his faith and view that the United States was founded upon faith in God.  In the speech, Reynolds attributes his academic success to his faith in Jesus Christ.  In Matthew’s view, the nation must return to its original faith-based values in order to continue to prosper. 

Reynolds’ speech begins by stating that his opinions are not those of the school or administration, but Principal John Long initially did not feel Reynolds’ speech met the "secular" requirement.

"We are pleased that the principal now understands the law better and will allow Mathew to present his speech," Theriot said.  "This is Mathew’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to deliver a high school valedictory address containing his religious views to his classmates.  ADF will always be there to defend the rights of students to express their faith in a public forum."

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
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