KRflier(Kansas City, KS) Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of a student after a Kansas public school prohibited her from posting or handing out religious fliers promoting the student-led “See You at the Pole” prayer event held before school. The school freely allows a variety of other types of materials to be posted and distributed but singled out the student’s fliers because they contained Bible verses.

“Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “The law on this is extremely clear: school policies cannot target religious speech for exclusion. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.”

In September, a seventh-grade student at Robert E. Clark Middle School (Bonner Springs/Edwardsville Unified School District) posted fliers with Bible verses in advance of the “See You at the Pole” event, a day when students across the nation gather around the flagpole at their local school before the beginning of the school day to pray for the school, students, staff and the nation. The fliers were a precursor to additional fliers providing the date and time of the “See You at the Pole” event that the student intended to distribute later.

A school counselor confronted the student at a school dance in front of her friends and informed her that the fliers were “illegal” because of the Bible verses and could not be posted or distributed at school. A district wide policy bans the distribution of “religious materials…on school grounds or in any attendance facility before, during, or after the school day or a school activity.”

School officials took down and destroyed the fliers. Because of the threat of punishment from the school counselor, the student could only secretly distribute a few informational fliers with the time and place of the event to other students out of sight of teachers. As a result, very few students attended the event.

The school has allowed the posting of a variety of materials, including a hand-made poster of a tombstone with the words “RIP” and a poster of rap artist Lil’ Wayne with the words “Good Kush and Alcohol.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit, K.R. v. Unified School District No. 204, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, explains, “Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. Non-disruptive, private student expression is protected by the First Amendment.” Moreover, “the government may not discriminate against speech based on its viewpoint, regardless of the forum.”

The lawsuit also notes that the student’s posting of the material did not “interfere with the orderly conduct of educational activity within the school.”

“Marginalizing students of faith removes an important influence for good from the school community,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We hope the school district will revise its policy so that students can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.”

21 comments
  1. Would you be upset if the flier contained writings from the Koran? Perhaps announcing locations of prayer meetings?

    What if an atheist group put up a flier that announces a meeting to discuss immorality of the Bible. “Tonight, we shall continue examining morality and fatherhood covering Gen 19:8 “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.'”

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just not include any scripture on the fliers? Perhaps save it as a handout during the meeting.

    1. I don’t really have time for debates in the comments, I’d rather leave that to readers, but two thoughts to respond to your comment and then back to work.

      1. I believe in free speech, provided kids were handing out fliers during non-instructional time fine. I’m certain there are plenty fliers I would find objectionable, religious in nature or not, being distributed in schools. The key is that it is kids who hand it out. They have the constitutional right to be theologically wrong.
      2. “Immorality of the Bible”: Because it’s written in the Bible means that a certain behavior is being condoned? That’s a poor approach to biblical hermenutics and interpretation.

      1. The whole point in your #2 is even if you think it is a “poor approach”, should that keep them from having the meeting? Are we going to restrict certain groups over others? Who gets to decide? Do you get to use your point #2 to restrict their use of your point #1?

      2. It is the responsibility of parents, not the school, to determine what their children should read, attend, promote. If they dont approve of an atheist group flyer, or a Wiccan flyer, or whatever, throw out the flyer and use it as a teaching moment.
        You have to have either an open policy or a closed policy, otherwise you have a descriminatory policy based on the opinions of those who happen to be in power

      3. As a parent of a child in the Bonner Springs School District #204 and local lawyer I find that this acceptable for this region. Many city and state laws have been enacted to stop the passing of religious materials because, sadly, the Westboro Baptist church targets this area with hate felt messages that many parents do not want their children to see. The most important thing that the users of this site must remember is that if 204 is going to enforce the rule to protect the children from the messages that are negative and hateful they must enforce the rule on the children that go to school there. I would also like to point out that the use of the some of the above listed material i.e. “The school has allowed the posting of a variety of materials, including a hand-made poster of a tombstone with the words “RIP” and a poster of rap artist Lil’ Wayne with the words “Good Kush and Alcohol.”” was taken out of context. the tombstone was most likely a Halloween decoration that was to part of a Halloween class party (many of the families that live in this area are not financially secure so the school and its staff does the best that they can to provide a great fun school environment for children who most likely lack such a caring environment at home. The rap poster, to my understanding, is part of a ongoing prank. it appears at many different schools around the district and police are investigating. I would also like to point out that schools (Elementary, Middle, and Intermediate) are given rights that are a bit more restrictive of rights than that of the American Adult. I would like to leave you all with this Luke 6:37. ” Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven”

      4. Oh please. Westboro is no excuse to silence free speech, period. Especially, that of those students that attend the school, the parents of those students or the taxpayers that fund it. Nto only that, the flyer this child passed out does not even come close to the hateful things Westboro does. Stop using extremes to justify constitutional violations.

      5. I was responding to your comments with additional questions, mainly to further the discussion. I am sorry if that comes across as putting words in your mouth. It was not my intention.

      1. Are you implying that when I disagreed with you before that somehow that makes me against free speech?

      2. I am implying that you may be getting paid to go to Christian websites and have a fit over anything that is said. And, I am implying that you carry water for an atheist group, interested in stifling free speech. And, I am implying that the silly things you say are not meant to be silly, but are of another nature…

      3. Yes, your last comment seems to have disappeared, but it showed up on Disqus today where I could see it. Just to let you know, we live in the post-modern era, where old-fashioned non-believers, like yourself, are more of an endangered species in America, than legitimate Christians. This is what I don’t understand about you. You can hear atheists everywhere today, and they do not believe in the Golden Rule or even the rule of law anymore. So, why do you sound just like one of them? They are against free speech for either of us. Their views are completely based on Marxism, which is the exact opposite of both Christianity and our secular government.

      4. It is easy to make claims without backing them up. Who are these atheists who are against free speech? It would seem from what you have written here is anyone who disagrees with you or your religion is somehow against free speech. That has not been my experience.

      5. I suggest you use your search window. Put a few words in it regarding what ever you want to know, and get some info on the subjects you claim to have more than a passing interest in. Look at atheist sites. Watch atheists on twitter. Note that we have one sided journalism. Here is an online book you can read for free: “The New World Order,” by H.G. Wells, see if it is anti-Christian…. Ayn Rand was an anti-Christian atheist, and one of her favorite writers, Nietzsche wrote “The Anti-Christ.” Wells’ and Rand’s influence can still be felt today. Read the three main Marxists- Marx, Engels and Lenin…..totally anti-Christian, and totally against free speech. And, most of all, note the lawsuits against having any Christianity in the public square. They are brought forward by atheists. If you have access to college textbooks, see what is being written in them today. There are actual Marxist texts on how to write revisionist history, and books on changing the meaning of words….There are subtle and not so subtle ways to accomplish the same thing, getting rid of free speech…. Use some discernment when you read, and go for it.

      6. You don’t have that far back to see that Christianity has been used to justify many evil deeds. Slavery, the near genocide of the indigenous people here in America, the Salem Witch Trials, Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews, the Inquisitions, There are evil people in the world. Anti-Semitism has been alive and well since Christianity began.

        My point being if all we need do is find a few examples of bad apples in history to condemn a whole group of people, there is plenty to go around. Look at prisons here in the U.S.. You will find the cells full of Christians, Muslims and other theists. Atheists make up a small percentage based on percentage of the overall population.

      7. You don’t have a point. Your ideas are not your own. You are naïve, and want to stay that way. Hitler’s favorite writer was Nietzsche. NAZI is short for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. The most persecuted people in the world today are Christians. And Hitler had plenty of Christians killed, including two of my relatives. Communists have been killing Christians world wide for over a hundred years. You wouldn’t know that because you would rather be fed a line than open a book on your own, or do any kind of research. Anti-Semitism was around before Christians. So was slavery. Read about the Salem witch trials. Read some real history on colonial America, and the pioneers who settled the west.

  2. Our school did this too for two years until I found out & confronted them with the Supreme court decisions that confirmed that they were violating the law. (I also gave them the number of the ADF lawyer who was helping me too). They soon changed their policy.

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