The NAE filed a co-amici in the Morgan v. Plano Independent School District case involving a public school’s suppression of student written speech of religious content. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the school district may ban virtually all non-verbal student speech in any school-related context. The earlier rule was that only speech disruptive of the educational environment of the school could be banned. The NAE joined the Cato Institute and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in urging the Supreme Court to take up the case. If the Supreme Court fails to overturn the case, schools will be free to ban students from distributing any written materials even when not disruptive, including religious messages of any kind.
Several families brought the case to the courts after one third grader was banned from giving candy cane pens with a religious message to his classmates, and another reported that his class was told they could not write “Merry Christmas” on holiday cards being sent to American troops overseas. While the school claims the policy on distributing materials will protect the educational process from disruption, it would actually deprive students of exposure to a wide variety of messages and ideas that are important to preparing youth for life in a diverse society.