Interesting Student Speech/Religion Case in UK
stevesan at umich.edu
Fri Feb 20 11:00:25 PST 2009
While I dislike Judge Posner's condescension in poo-pooing the speech rights
of high school students in last April's decision about anti-gay speech at a
Chicago-area high school ("The contribution that kids can make to the
marketplace in ideas and opinions is modest and a school's countervailing
interest in protecting its students from offensive speech by their
classmates is undeniable."), shouldn't it make some difference that these
It seems to me a bit of a stretch to pretend they were having a serious
exchange of viewpoints about religious doctrine, and thus an odd case for
planting the flag of religious liberty. This looks to me like a spat
between two kindergarten tikes, one of whom disrupted the school environment
by upsetting the other; the offending student really wasn't punished and
seems to have been handled reasonably under the circumstances.
Of course, we don't know precisely what the head teacher said, just as we
don't know whether the kids were talking, bullying, etc., so my guess is
that people's views on the legal analysis may be colored by how their
imaginations fill in the details.
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Rick Duncan
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 8:34 AM
To: CONLAWPROFS professors
Subject: Interesting Student Speech/Religion Case in UK
>From the Religion Clause blog:
ds.html> School's Handling of Child's Religious Remarks Brings National
An incident in a British school between two young children is turning into a
national controversy. As reported by Ekklesia
<http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/8652> and by Church
<http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=70847> Times, last week 5-year
old Jasmine Cain, a student at Landscore Primary School in Crediton
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crediton> , upset a classmate by telling her
that she would "go to hell" if she did not believe in God and Jesus. Head
teacher Gary Read told Jasmine that her remark was inappropriate in the
school with children from diverse backgrounds. Jasmine's mother, Jennie
Cain, works as the receptionist at the school. Read asked her to make sure
that her daughter did not repeat the remark that left her classmate in
tears. Now Jennie Cain is challenging the head teacher's actions, saying
that her daughter's religious beliefs are not being respected. She sent out
e-mails to ten friends asking them for support. When Jennie was asked to
stay home while the matter was being investigated, supporters around the
country began to speak out. The Archbishop of York said that the school's
treatment of Jennie Cain is an affront to the sensibility of Christians.
Feb. 13.) Now the Governors of the school have set up a special committee to
investigate the incident.
How would such a case come out here? In the 9th Circuit? Of course, there
have been a number of cases in the lower federal courts involving "anti-gay"
religious speech by public school students, and these cases have come down
May a student be disciplined for discussing his belief in salvation by
Christ alone at recess or at lunch in the cafeteria? Does it matter that
some classmates are deeply offended by the speaker's religious doctrine?
Welpton Professor of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting
the vote."--Ben Franklin
"It's a funny thing about us human beings: not many of us doubt God's
existence and then start sinning. Most of us sin and then start doubting His
existence." --J. Budziszewski (The Revenge of Conscience)
"Once again the ancient maxim is vindicated, that the perversion of the best
is the worst." -- Id.
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