Know your religious freedom rights in public school
If you’re a student or teacher at a public school, or your kids attend one, it is important to Know Your Rights! about religious freedom in public schools.
Knowing your rights is not anti-religion. Religious freedom is part of what it means to be an American. Our system of church-state separation means that individuals, not school or government officials, get to make their own decisions about religion.
Public schools educate 90% of U.S. students and they’re an important building block for a diverse, welcoming society. Religious freedom means that children of all religions and none should feel welcome in their own public school.
What you need to know
Students do have the right to pray
Students do have the right to pray, discuss, or express personal beliefs with friends as long as they don’t disrupt class. Students can form religious clubs and groups too, as long as they are started and run by students, not your school or teachers, and follow the same rules as all student clubs.
Coaches cannot force players to pray
Coercion may be direct, like benching a football player for not participating in a team prayer, or indirect, like opening a football game with prayer. Coercion of either kind violates the separation of church and state.
LGBTQ clubs are allowed
Public schools that allow student-run religious clubs, must allow LGBTQ-focused clubs like Gay-Straight Alliances, even if the school’s administrators or other students or parents have religious objections
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The Know Your Rights guides are an important resource to anyone whose religious rights are being violated. And a support to everyone who is working to protect church-state separation in our public schools.