(Scottsdale, AZ) Alliance Defending Freedom is making available a legal memo (see below) that explains and reinforces the First Amendment freedom of students to participate in Wednesday’s See You at the Pole event. SYATP is an annual, student-organized, and student-led gathering held at school flagpoles around the world that provides students with the opportunity to pray for their school, friends, teachers, government, and nation.
“Christian students should not be prevented from peacefully expressing their beliefs outside of class time. They don’t abandon their constitutional freedoms at the schoolhouse gate,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of the students’ religious or political beliefs.”
In the past, some government school officials have unconstitutionally kept students from sharing about and participating in the event, often erroneously citing the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
The Alliance Defending Freedom legal memo explains that “students have a constitutional right to participate in SYATP through prayer and worship activities” and “have constitutional rights to inform their fellow students about the SYATP event as long as they do not materially disrupt the academic process while doing so.”
The legal memo also notes that the Supreme Court has ruled that “religious speech is protected by the First Amendment and may not be singled out for discrimination.” The memo explains that nothing in the Constitution “prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the schoolday.”
“The First Amendment protects the freedom of students to participate in SYATP through prayer and worship activities,” said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Public school officials who say otherwise are misinformed. We hope our legal memo clarifies the freedom of students to hold and participate in this event.”
You can read the memo here or below:
Photo credit: SYATP.com