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Fla. school district agrees to end ban on fliers for children’s event at church

ADF filed suit after district refused to allow church to participate in flier program open to other community groups

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have reached a favorable settlement with the Collier County School Board on behalf of a local church barred from participating in a flier distribution program open to other community groups. In June, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Cypress Wood Presbyterian Church after school officials rejected its request to include fliers promoting an upcoming Vacation Bible School for children in the flier program.

“Churches shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “We commend the district for its quick actions to end the unconstitutional exclusion of religious materials and allow all community groups to participate equally in the flier distribution program. Far from barring schools from including religious fliers in such programs, the First Amendment actually prohibits schools from favoring certain viewpoints over others.”

Cypress Wood Presbyterian Church contacted the district’s Community Request Office to inquire about participating in the flier distribution program, which allows non-profit community groups to send written materials home with students. The church was advised that the district “did not allow religious events to be promoted” but that the church should submit its proposed materials anyway.

After submitting its materials, the church received no response. The assistant superintendent later informed the principal that the fliers would not be distributed. As part of the settlement, however, the school board agreed to revise its policies prohibiting religious organizations from distributing materials through the school flier forum.

ADF-allied attorney Roger Gannam of Jacksonville assisted with the lawsuit, Cypress Wood Presbyterian Church v. The School Board of Collier County.

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.