As you have heard, on August 17, 2012, Waller High School has told us we can no longer wear crosses or show our relgion. Now we are trying to win our right back!
- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution includes a prohibition on the establishment of religion, the Establishment Clause, and on interfering with an individual’s free exercise of religion, the Free Exercise Clause, stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” U.S. Const. Amend. I.
- The First Amendment also prohibits interference with an individual’s freedom of speech, the Free Speech Clause, stating that, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” U.S. Const. Amend. I.
- Plaintiffs may sue the government for violations of the First Amendment through Section 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e - 2000e-17, prohibits discrimination in employment: “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s … religion. . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 2000 e-2.
- The Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. § 4071, requires that districts to permit student clubs of a religious nature to meet on school property, subject to the same rules and privileges as other non-curricular student groups.
- The Department of Education Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools provides guidance on the current state of the law regarding religious expression in schools.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Compliance Manual on Religious Discrimination provides guidance on handling employee complaints of religious discrimination.
- The Texas Constitution Freedom of Worship Clause, Texas Constitution article I, section 6, forbids the preference of one religion over another and offers protections for individual religious expression.
- The Texas Equal Rights Amendment, Texas Constitution article I, section 3a, prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.
- Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code chapter 110, prohibits a government agency from substantially burdening a person’s free exercise of religion unless the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.
- Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, Texas Labor Code chapter 21, subchapter B, prohibits discrimination in employment based on religion.
- Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code chapter 106 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.
- The Religious Viewpoint Antidiscrimination Act, Texas Education Code sections 25.151 – 25.156, includes provisions addressing student religious expression at schools, with a particular focus on student speakers and access of student religious groups to district facilities.
- The Bible course statute, Texas Education Code section 28.011, provides that school districts may offer an elective course on the content, history, literary style, and influence of the Old and New Testaments.
- Texas Education Code section 25.087 requires that a district must excuse a student from attending school for the purpose of observing religious holy days, including traveling for that purpose.
- The voluntary prayer statute, Texas Education Code section 25.901, protects students right to individually, voluntarily, and silently pray in a nondisruptive manner at school.
- The school uniform exemption statute, Texas Education Code section 11.162, permits parents to seek an exemption from a school uniform requirement or request a transfer to a campus without such a requirement based on a bona fide religious objection.
- Under the immunization exemption statute and regulation, Texas Education Code section 38.001 and 25 Texas Administrative Code section 97.62, immunization is not required for admission to public school with a proper affidavit stating that the applicant declines immunization for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief.
- Texas Health and Safety Code sections 36.005, 37.002, and 95.003 and 25 Texas Administrative Code sections 37.23 and 37.148 require districts to exempt students from certain medical assessments based on request of parents who cite conflicts with the parents' or students' religious beliefs.
- The temporary removal statute, Texas Education Code section 26.010, permits parents to temporarily remove their children from classes or school activities that conflict with their religious beliefs.
- Texas Education Code section 25.082 permits exemptions to the required recitation of the U.S. and Texas Pledges of Allegiance to be granted on the request of students’ parents.
- The educator absence statute, Texas Education Code section
21.406, prohibits a district from denying a salary, bonus, or similar
compensation, based in whole or part on attendance, to an educator on the basis
of an absence for observation of a holy day observed by a qualified