A California family is suing the Huntington Beach City School District after two brothers were told they could not hand out flyers promoting “Bring Your Bible to School Day.”
According to Fox News, the religious liberty group Freedom X filed a lawsuit on behalf of Micah Bausch, 10, and Nieka Bausch, 8, in federal court on Monday, alleging school officials at John R. Peterson Elementary School violated the students’ constitutional rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion last October by denying them the opportunity to hand out flyers during the school day.
The flyers promoted “Bring Your Bible To School Day,” an initiative started by Focus on the Family, which takes place the first Thursday of October.
In addition to the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the complaint cites the California Student Free Expression Law, which provides, in part, “Students shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech … including, but not limited to … the distribution of printed materials or petitions.”
The code further states that printed materials may be distributed before or after school or during lunchtime.
In a news release, Freedom X stated that Peterson Principal Constance E. Polhemus told the Micah and Nieka’s mother, Holly Bausch, “As a public school we cannot approve the distribution of religious materials to students during school hours.”
Freedom X president and chief counsel Bill Becker stated, “Principle Polhemus and the Huntington Beach City School District are about to learn a hard lesson in constitutional law. Students, regardless of grade level, have a First Amendment right to express a religious viewpoint to another student, including the right to distribute religious flyers, without fear.”
Becker added, “One wonders how school administrators come to believe that the voluntary expression of religious viewpoints in a public school is somehow forbidden but everything else (including the perverse indoctrination of LGBT propaganda) is permissible.”
The news release also noted that the school has “no trouble teaching Islam.”
Becker elaborated on that subject telling the Orange County Register, “They are trying to push the idea of multiculturalism that is inclusive of Islam, but they are always willing to be exclusive of Christianity.”
“It’s an upside-down world we have today, a backlash against the time when all schools were required to teach the Bible,” he said.
District Superintendent Gregg Haulk told Fox News he was “surprised” and “disappointed” by the lawsuit.
“It had nothing to do with the content,” Haulk said. “Our procedure is that anything handed out needs to be approved. They were given every freedom of any individual to pass out flyers.”
“We try to discourage flyers as much as possible,” he added. “We have found they’re not an effective tool for communication.”
According to Becker, the school eventually granted his clients permission to hand their flyers out before or after school, but not during recess or lunch because these are deemed instructional times.
That didn’t make sense to the boys’ mother.
“To me, it doesn’t seem like kids get instruction during lunch and recess,” Holly Bausch told the Register. “Why is that considered instructional time? My kids go to daycare before and after school. So, lunch and recess are the only times when they would’ve had time to distribute the fliers.”
Candi Cushman, the director of education issues and initiatives at Focus on the Family who oversees the “Bring Your Bible to School” program, told Fox News, “Respectfully sharing information during a free period on campus is one of the primary, and often only, outlets that kids have for expressing their values and putting their free-speech rights into practice.”
“Shut down that right — and you’ve pretty much squelched kids’ ability to direct any kind of student-led event.”
Earlier this month, students from a Pennsylvania high school Christian club threatened to sue the Mechanicsburg Area School District, claiming their constitutional rights were being violated after they were forbidden from handing out Bibles during the school day.
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