Valedictorians of a feather speak freely together

Thursday, June 3, 2021
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

First Amendment attackA defender of America's first freedom is pleased that a second high school in Michigan has reversed its policy involving free speech in graduation speeches.

Attorney Stephanie Taub of First Liberty Institute reports that Savannah Lefler, the valedictorian or class scholar of John Glenn High School in Westland, Michigan, was told by her principal that she could not include religious content in her speech at graduation.

"After First Liberty got involved, explaining the law, explaining that students have a constitutional right to free speech, the school reversed course and ultimately allowed her to give her speech," Taub continues.

Last week, First Liberty also wrote a letter to Hillsdale High School to defend valedictorian Elizabeth Turner's right to reference her faith in her speech at graduation.

"I'm grateful I will be able to share my faith with my classmates, and I pray that God uses this situation to advance His kingdom," Turner said in a statement to One News Now.

Taub

"May God be glorified in the situation," said Savannah Lefler to One News Now. "I'm thankful I am able to share my faith in Christ with my classmates and pray that this never happens to another student in the future."

Lefler's speech is pre-recorded, and John Glenn High School will show a disclaimer at the beginning of the speech to make it clear that it is not endorsed by the school.

"Disclaimers are perfectly appropriate for this sort of setting,” the First Liberty attorney notes. "According to the Department of Education guidelines, when a student is giving a graduation speech, it is their private speech. We hope that the school will take a closer look in the future at their guidelines moving forward, but for now we're thankful that both schools responded so quickly."

Turner's graduation is scheduled for June 6th. Lefler will graduate next week.

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