Codifying Commonsense: Religious Viewpoint Antidiscrimination Acts and the Free Speech Rights They Protect
32 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2015 Last revised: 30 Mar 2015
Date Written: February 3, 2015
The Supreme Court has held that the freedom of speech is not shed at the schoolhouse doors and warrants protection. Students’ whose religious viewpoints are discriminated against at school are likely unaware of their constitutional rights. The Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act or Student Religious Liberties Act, passed in Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas, aims to protect students’ right to free speech. The Acts reaffirm constitutionally protected rights to free speech in classroom assignments, homework, and other interactions while at school.
The Acts also advocate for the establishment of a limited public forum at all school-sponsored events where students may speak. This policy ensures that students can speak at any school-sponsored event without the fear of discrimination or retribution. The Acts pass scrutiny under both the Lemon test and the endorsement test and protect the school from most Establishment Clause violations. The Acts promote a policy that protects students’ free speech rights, including any religious expressions and provide teachers and administrators with a clear policy that will prevent costly litigation.
Keywords: Free Speech, Religion, Antidiscrimination, First Amendment, Constitution, Schools, Students, Establishment Clause, Free Exercise
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