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Washington School Principal Says No to Interfaith Student-led Prayer Club, But Allowed a 'Pride' Club a Week Earlier

Talia Wise : Apr 11, 2024  CBN News

According to the law group, students L.A.W. and J.W. have friends from many different faith backgrounds and wanted to start a prayer club after school to "bring students together to serve their community."

[CBN News] Two Washington elementary school students are demanding that their school allow them to start an interfaith prayer club after the school's principal denied them access to meet on school grounds. (Image: Unsplash-Rosie Sun)

First Liberty Institute, a non-profit legal group, is representing two students from Creekside Elementary and their parents, claiming that school officials engaged in religious discrimination when they denied the students the opportunity to start a prayer group.

According to the law group, students L.A.W. and J.W. have friends from many different faith backgrounds and wanted to start a prayer club after school to "bring students together to serve their community."

L.A.W. and her mother met with Creekside Principal Amy Allison twice in February about the club, but Allison claimed that all the funding for school clubs was allocated in October, so the club would not be allowed to meet.

An LGBTQ Pride club, however, was launched and promoted by teachers just a week before L.A.W. met with the principal.

Allison told L.A.W. that her only option for the prayer club was to pay for space like outside groups.

First Liberty Institute wrote a letter on behalf of the students alleging Allison's actions were unlawful and violated both the Free Exercise Clause and the Free Speech Clause.

"Principal Allison's suggestion that L.A.W. could apply and pay to use the school's facilities as if she were an outside organization is an unlawful sidestep of the law's requirements. As the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, religious clubs must be afforded the same recognition, access, and rights as other non-curricular clubs," the letter reads. 

First Liberty is giving Issaquah School District and Creekside Elementary School until April 22 to approve the prayer club stating it is a "time-sensitive matter."

"Denying the formation of a religious student club while allowing other clubs violates the Constitution," said Kayla Toney, associate counsel at First Liberty Institute. "School officials at Creekside Elementary are engaged in religious discrimination against an eleven-year-old girl who simply wants to pray, feel support from other religious friends, and do community service. In Coach Kennedy's case just a short drive away in Bremerton, the Supreme Court held that students and staff can pray at school—and to prohibit them violates the First Amendment."

A spokesperson for Issaquah School District told CBN News they did receive the letter and will follow up with additional details after April 15.

"As you may already know, clubs offered are student-interest driven and meet outside of the school day. At the elementary level, participation in a club also requires parent permission," the spokesperson explained. "Once the school year begins, the building budget is set, and additional clubs are usually not added until the following school year." Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for CBNNews.com, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets.







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