A family in Mississippi in the United States of America (USA) alleges religious discrimination against their third-grade daughter’s elementary school claiming the school officials forced her to remove her face mask with the inscription: “Jesus Loves Me.”
The parents, Matthew and Jennifer Booth filed a federal lawsuit yesterday (Monday) against Simpson County School District in Mississippi because their daughter, Lydia, was ordered to remove the mask on Oct. 13.
It was alleged that the school asked her to replace it with one her school, Simpson Central, supplied.
The basic rule is that all students should wear masks to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
It was stated in the lawsuit that the school permits “students to convey a multitude of messages concerning unlimited topics on their masks” such as “Black Lives Matter” and the New Orleans Saints’ logo but forced Booth to remove her “Jesus Loves Me” mask, even though the suit says it had “caused no disruptions.”
Lydia Booth may be suspended if she continues wearing her faith-themed mask. The Alliance Defending Freedom (AFD) group is representing the family.
The suit added further that the school has a policy prohibiting messages on masks that are “political, religious, sexual or inappropriate” and may be “offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive”.
The suit argued further that the “Defendants’ censorship of [Booth’s] religious message, and the Religious Speech Policy and practice on which that censorship was based, violate the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution….Booth is a Christian “and desires to share her religious views with her classmates”.
It was strongly argued that the school’s policy violates Booth’s constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion.
ADF legal counsel Michael Ross said: “Public schools have a duty to respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them. While school administrators face challenges in helping students navigate school life during a pandemic, those officials simply can’t suspend the First Amendment or arbitrarily pick and choose the messages that students can or can’t express.
Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with the logos of local sports teams or even the words ‘Black Lives Matter. This student deserves an equal opportunity to peacefully express her beliefs”.