You Be The Judge
Test your knowledge of the Five Freedoms and see how you match up to the courts...and fellow citizens.
Student Religious Speech
A teacher at Dickson County Junior High School assigned a research paper to students. Each student was to sign up for the topic of his or her choice, which then required approval of any changes. Brittany Settle, a student in the class, originally signed up for a paper about drama, but later changed her topic to "The Life of Jesus" without approval. The teacher refused to accept Ms. Settle's paper and, when she refused to write on another topic, the student received a zero for the assignment. After exhausting the appeals process within the school system, Ms. Settle's father brought suit against the school, claiming that his daughter's free speech rights had been infringed. The teacher defended herself by providing six reasons for her decision.
Can a public school forbid a student from writing a research paper about Jesus?
Teachers must retain control over their classrooms and their curricula. This includes authority over grades and assignments. A student's free speech rights are not violated by having to abide by the criteria set by the teacher.
Students at public schools have no First Amendment rights. School is a place for children to be seen, not heard.
Students have the right to freely exercise their religion while at school, within certain reasonable boundaries. It is viewpoint discrimination to prevent a student from pursuing a topic of interest simply because a religious figure is involved.