News from around the state of Texas

District Considering Religious-Themed Cheers

School board to take written comments for another 10 days

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Southeast Texas school board listened to public comments on its decision to bar high school cheerleaders from displaying religious messages on banners at sporting events.

    The Kountze Independent School District board listened to comments for about one and half hours Tuesday night. KFDM-TV of Beaumont reports that 16 spoke for lifting the ban while only one spoke against repeal.

    Judge: Bible Verses Can Remain for Now

    [DFW] Judge: Bible Verses Can Remain for Now
    A Texas public high school cheerleading squad can keep emblazoning Bible verses on banners to cheer on football players at games, at least for now, a judge ruled Thursday. The school district had barred the cheerleaders from using the slogans on their banners after a Wisconsin atheist group complained, saying they violated First Amendment rights, but the Texas court issued a temporary injunction on Thursday to prevent that ban from going into effect before trial comes in June. The Kountze High School cheerleaders had gotten the support of the Texas Attorney General in their battle over the banners, which they argued were the result of a student-led initiative and therefore didn't violate others' right to freedom from religion. A lawyer for the school, however, said that although the banners were an innocent idea, they represented the school and thus had to be considered government speech. (Published Thursday, Oct 18, 2012)

    The board took no action and scheduled none but said it would take written comments for another 10 days.

    The district implemented the ban last year after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is dedicated to the separation of church and state. The group says the banners amounted to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

    Cheerleaders and the state attorney general contend that the ban violates the students' free speech rights. A judge blocked the ban pending the outcome of a foundation lawsuit set for trial in June.

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