‘How could this still be happening in America?’
By Bob Unruh
It’s been some 30 years or more since the U.S. Supreme Court established some of the most significant precedents for students in schools, including one that the First Amendment does indeed apply to students in schools.
But still sometimes educators don’t understand, as happened with a recent case in Illinois where officials confiscated a Bible from a second-grader simply because she was reading it during recess, and would talk about it with friends.
The documentation of the situation comes in a report from Francis J. Manion at the American Center for Law and Justice, whose founder, Jay Sekulow, argued some of those precedent-establishing cases at the Supreme Court.
“A little girl had her Bible confiscated by school officials. How could this still be happening in America?” the report wondered, then explaining it’s because “local school officials still don’t seem to have gotten the message.”
“We recently heard from the parents of Gabrielle, a second grader in Illinois. It seems Gabrielle likes to bring her Bible to school and read it during recess. Sometimes she reads it aloud, and sometimes other kids listen in and talk with her about what she’s reading,” the report said. “Constitutional crisis? It shouldn’t be; but little Gabrielle had her Bible taken away by a teacher and was told, ‘You just can’t be doing that.'”
The school then told the little girl’s parents she was not allowed to read the Bible during recess.
They objected, and the school changed its course slightly, determining she “could read it during outside recess but not during inside recess,” the report said.
That was after the school confirmed there were no complaints about the bible reading.
“It was a simple case of public school officials’ hypersensitivity to the specter of a threat from the ACLU or some similar spreader of long-debunked propaganda about ‘separation of Church and State,'” the organization reported.
Her parents then called the ACLJ, and its lawyers sent a letter with an explanation of what the law allows.
“We let them know about the now half-century-old Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969). In Tinker, students wore black armbands on their sleeves to exhibit their disapproval of the Vietnam War and were sent home and suspended from school. Ruling in the students’ favor, the Supreme Court in Tinker held that students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.'”
The school then reversed itself regarding the Bible reading, the report said.