Michigan school censors religious references in student studies

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HILLSDALE, Mich., May 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Today the First Liberty Institute sent a letter to the principal of Hillsdale High School (MI) asking her to allow graduate Elizabeth Turner to refer to her faith in her. farewell speech. School officials asked Elizabeth to modify her farewell speech to remove any reference to her religious point of view.

You can read the letter here.

“Graduation is a time of celebration, not censorship,” said Keisha Russell, legal counsel for the First Liberty Institute. “Students retain their constitutional rights to freedom of expression from elementary school until graduation ceremony. All public schools should protect the private religious expression of their students.

Elizabeth is one of the majors speaking at the graduation ceremony on June 6e. In part of her speech, Elizabeth refers to her faith saying, “For me my future hope lies in my relationship with Christ. By trusting him and choosing to live a life dedicated to the glory of his kingdom, I can be sure that I am living a life with purpose and meaning. My identity is in what God says and what I want to become is described in the scriptures. After reviewing Elizabeth’s speech, school principal Amy Goldsmith underlined these two paragraphs and said to Elizabeth, “We need to be mindful of including religious aspects. These are your strong beliefs, but they are not appropriate for a speech in a public school setting. I know this will frustrate you, but we need to be careful about it. ”

In its letter to school officials, First Liberty states, “Student graduation speeches constitute private speech, not government speech, and private speech is not subject to the establishment clause. Unlike your statements that religious sentiments “are not appropriate for a speech in a public school setting,” Elizabeth’s statements do not turn into a government speech just because they are delivered in a public setting or in front of a public. public. The letter explains that the principal violates federal law, which allows private religious speeches at school events.

About the First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated exclusively to the defense of religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at [email protected] or by calling 972-941-4453.

Contact: Lacey McNiel, [email protected]
Direct: 972-941-4453


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