Touchdown: Kountze ISD Cheerleaders Restore Legal Right To Express Religious Messages
Liberty Institute and Beaumont Attorney David Starnes File Lawsuit To Halt School District's Ban on Student-Made Religious Banners and Signs
KOUNTZE, Texas, Sept. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Liberty Institute and Beaumont attorney David Starnes, on behalf of Kountze High School cheerleaders and parents, filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the Hardin County Court to prohibit government school officials from censoring the cheerleader's religious speech. The judge granted the TRO so that the cheerleaders can continue to encourage their football team with spirited banners and signs. If the school district decides to oppose the ruling, a hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4.
Kountze ISD students plan to immediately exercise their right to make and display banners with religious messages. The next game at Kountze's ISD is a middle school football game being held today; kickoff is scheduled for less than four hours after the TRO was granted. Record attendance is expected due to the overflow of community support and enthusiasm for the students' efforts. Various other sporting events are scheduled throughout the week.
"We are excited that the cheerleaders for the Kountze High School Lions can again do what they do best—cheer on their football team without government censorship," said Mike Johnson, Senior Counsel for Liberty Institute. "This is a quintessential example of students private speech being censored unnecessarily by uninformed school officials. This is a well-established principle of constitutional law that students don't have to shed their constitutional rights of free speech when they enter the school house gate."
Starnes, who serves as lead counsel stated, "We are confident that the courts will continue to uphold the rights of these students to make banners and signs containing their personal religious expressions. Such discrimination and censorship is unfortunate and illegal."
After the attorneys met with the cheerleaders and parents this week, they were impressed by the cheerleaders' motivation for making the banners containing religious expression. Johnson said, "They told us 'Our parents and teachers often bombard us about not engaging in bullying speech. We wanted to demonstrate good sportsmanship by including positive messages on our banners that will encourage not only the home team, but also the players and fans on the opposing side.'"
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty's vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our Founding Fathers. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.
SOURCE Liberty Institute
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