Education

Public School Principal Made 3rd Grader Take ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Mask Off is Federal Court Bound

Did a principal at Simpson Central Elementary School in Mississippi make a mistake when he told a student she needed to take off her COVID-19 mask?

A federal court will decide.

Alliance Defending Freedom

“The third-grade student, Lydia Booth, wished to peacefully share her Christian views with her schoolmates but, even though she wore the mask without disruption or incident on Oct. 13, the principal at her school in Pinola required her to remove and replace it,” according to the Alliance Defending Freedom.  

Two days later, school district administrators announced a policy that prohibits messages on masks that are “political, religious, sexual or inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment.”

“Public schools have a duty to respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross. “While school administrators face challenges in helping students navigate school life during a pandemic, those officials simply can’t suspend the First Amendment or arbitrarily pick and choose the messages that students can or can’t express.”

“Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with the logos of local sports teams or even the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This student deserves an equal opportunity to peacefully express her beliefs.”

According to the lawsuit, the girl’s mother, Jennifer Booth, communicated repeatedly with school officials before going to court.

Mrs. Booth pointed out to them that the school handbook had no policy limiting her daughter’s religious expression, “and that it, in fact, protects her speech under adopted policies that are consistent with the Mississippi Student Religious Freedom Act and the First Amendment.

A school official responded with a copy of the school’s plan addressing the district’s response to COVID-19, but the official’s response included retroactive modifications, including a ban on religious messages on face masks, that were not published in the original plan.

The following day, the district’s superintendent announced this new ban to all parents in the district.

“No public school student should be singled out for peacefully sharing her religious beliefs with fellow students,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Today’s students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, educators, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public schools demonstrate the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

The lawsuit asked the court to halt officials from enforcing their policy.

“Booth desires to wear her ‘Jesus Loves Me’ mask to school but is self-censoring her expression because her school has already enforced the policy and promises to continue to enforce it, which could subject her to escalating discipline, up to and including suspension.”

Sharkey Burke, one of more than 3,400 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit, L.B. v. Simpson County School District, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

6 replies »

  1. It seems Christians are not allowed to do anything, if it was another religious saying on that mask there would be world wide protests, i can understand if the writing was rude or offensive but a person should be able to Express their religion, whats next for this school, banning people wearing a crucifix.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have to stop thinking that public education is necessary. Our country was founded by free thinking individuals and public schools wasn’t even a part of our nation for a long time. Early on, the bible was used for teaching, for our country was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles. Though I taught for many years, I was always instructing more as a home schooling teacher, using supplemental lessons, researching, and utilizing projects to show rather than tell, encouraging the students to learn things on their own. Myself, I learned far more on my own than I ever did in buildings. My friends too. Parents, especially with all the resources available, have all they need to teach their children real materials, our real history, real science, and bring resources into the home, but also teach them things like cooking, small business. Get the children to realize they can learn whatever they want, guided by their parents, working together, and let their interests lead the way. The brightest young people don’t look to outside agencies to think for themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

      • You are very welcome. I could cry with what I saw happening through a career, no one hearing, and realizing how our youth were being manipulated. Did the best I could to get them to see things for themselves, but I also didn’t want to explain too much for they still had a childhood to enjoy happiness. Did a lot of projects, art, and sports training. Always, during the year, shared that I believe in Christ.

        Liked by 2 people

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