Every public school superintendent in Louisiana has received a succinct set of guidelines that will serve as a resource regarding the religious and free-speech rights of students.
The guidelines – the brainchild of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson – provide answers to more than two dozen FAQs (frequently asked questions) about such issues as student-led prayer and when students can pray. The guidelines also explain that prayers at athletic events are permitted when school officials aren't involved.
Even though the First Amendment ensures the right of free speech, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel says this 15-page document is a handy reference for school officials and others.
"... School administrators, teachers, parents, students – they're not lawyers. They don't have the time to search through volumes of law books to find out what the law is on a particular area," he tells OneNewsNow.
The Liberty Counsel founder explains why it's critical to correct the erroneous ideas students may have based on flawed school policies that suppress religious expression, debate, and the exchange of ideas.
"... They learn that at an early age – and if it's not corrected, they end up becoming our future leaders," he points out. "And that's what they think First Amendment free speech is all about: that it's only speech with which you agree – when in fact the First Amendment protects speech with which you may disagree."
In an earlier report about the guidelines, OneNewsNow pointed out that schools facing a costly court fight over student speech often back down. Louisiana AG Landry said that students, especially, need to know they don't surrender their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse door – and that they have a right to express their religious views while on campus and during school time.