It’s important to prepare your student to respond in a respectful manner in case they are questioned or challenged during Bring Your Bible to School Day. Here are a few things to remember that your student has the right to do…
Your student's rights
Talking about God or reading the Bible during free time is almost always okay. When students are told that they can’t read the Bible at school or use the Bible in a homework assignment, the reason they’re often given is that the school must maintain “separation of church and state.”
But that’s just not correct. As long as your student is acting voluntarily and not disturbing class, then most of the time they have constitutional rights to express a personal, faith-based viewpoint. They also have the religious freedom to pray or read the Bible—as long as these activities are done voluntarily, led by students, and not done in a way that interrupts school lessons.
Here are some other, specific things your student should be allowed to do at school…
Bring their Bible
Just as students can bring other favorite books they are reading to school, they can also bring their Bibles or other religious books and read them during free time. Your student can even use the Bible in a class assignment as long as they do so in a way that is relevant to the subject the teacher has assigned and meets the requirements of the assignment.
Your student can silently or quietly pray before eating lunch, gather in groups to say a prayer around the flagpole before or after school, or pray before or after a sporting event. Student prayers are considered to be private, personal speech. They are allowed as long as they are student-led (rather than being adult-led or school endorsed), aren’t disrupting academic instruction, and are voluntary.
Share Bible verses
In general, your student can voluntarily express their personal and religious beliefs to their classmates through verbal or written expressions, as long as they follow their school’s policies and do not engage in these activities during classroom or instruction time. Schools can enforce reasonable limits on times and locations for where students are allowed to distribute materials. But these regulations must be applied equally to all students. That means schools cannot impose an outright ban on religious-themed materials if they already allow students to distribute non-religious materials.
Participate in Christian-themed events
Students and Christian clubs have equal access rights to participate in student-led events. School officials must remain neutral in how they treat students’ activities and free-speech expressions. For instance, school officials can’t allow one student group’s poster having to do with a secular subject to be put on a wall, but then turn around and deny permission to students who want to display Christian event posters just because they refer to Scripture or students’ religious beliefs.
In some circumstances, you may need additional help when communicating your student’s rights to their school.
If you encounter challenges or have trouble getting approval for Bring Your Bible to School Day, call 1-800-TELL-ADF. ADF, short for Alliance Defending Freedom, offers pro bono legal assistance as deemed appropriate for Bring Your Bible to School Day students who encounter unconstitutional roadblocks to their free speech rights.
ADF has also provided a legal memo which explains your student’s rights to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day. You can download it and provide it to school officials to give them a heads up of your student’s intent to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day before the October 7 event.