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School Administrator to Student: "Leave your Faith in the Car"
Promotion of homosexual agenda okay; ADF representing religious student suspended for wearing T-shirt with different view


LOS ANGELES – A federal civil rights lawsuit filed today charges that the Poway Unified School District violated the constitutional rights of a student and censored his free speech. The school district threatened further punishment and suspended the student for expressing his religious faith on a T-shirt during a school day designated to promote homosexual behavior. A school administrator told the student to "leave his faith in the car" when his faith might offend others.

"In this age of alleged tolerance, such a statement is disappointing, to put it mildly," said Robert Tyler, counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund. "Public school students don’t surrender their First Amendment rights when they enter the building. When are public school officials going to learn they are not allowed to silence constitutionally protected student speech just because they disagree with the student? This is unconstitutional suppression of speech and an illegal suspension from school."

The homemade lettering on the front of the T-shirt read "Be Ashamed" and "Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned." The back of the shirt read "Homosexuality is Shameful" and "Romans 1:27."

Harper v. Poway was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. ADF represents Chase Harper. Harper refused to compromise his religious beliefs and First Amendment rights and was suspended for simply wearing the homemade message on his T-shirt during the so-called "Day of Silence" sponsored by the school district’s "Gay-Straight Alliance."

"This arbitrary and unconscionable punishment violates our client’s rights to freedom of speech, his free exercise of religion, and his right to equal protection of the law guaranteed to him in the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution," Tyler said.

ADF is a legal alliance of more than 700 attorneys defending religious liberty through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.

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