School officials ban second-grader from distributing Easter candy containing religious messages
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Alliance Defense Fund is stepping in to defend the constitutional rights of a second-grade student who was prevented from distributing Easter candy with religious messages to his classmates.
“Schools should not be treating religious speech as second-class speech,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Delia van Loenen. “For school officials to tell a second-grade boy that he is not allowed to pass out Easter candy to his classmates because it contains a religious message is a blatant violation of his constitutional rights.”
The boy’s mother contacted ADF for assistance on behalf of her son. Van Loenen sent a letter to the school informing them of the boy’s First Amendment rights, but so far the school has not responded.
In 2004, ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of a second-grade student after his Michigan charter school told him he was barred from handing out candy canes with a religious card attached that explained the legendary origin of the candy cane. The principal of the school, overruling the boy’s teacher, ordered that the cards be clipped off from the candy canes before distribution. The case, Curry v. Saginaw Public Schools, still remains in litigation. In February, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would write a brief in support of that case.
“Even though the First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech and religious expression, there are some school officials who mistakenly think those rights don’t apply on public school campuses,” said van Loenen. “The school officials have erred, and they must comply with the Constitution.”
ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.