A Houston-area teacher is embroiled in controversy after allegedly telling an elementary school student she can't read the Bible in class during "read to myself" time and is not even allowed to bring the Bible to school.
Some parents at Hamilton Elementary in Cypress are outraged.
"If it were a time when the child could have silent time and read what she wants to read during that time period, she should be able to read whatever she wants to read," said parent Germaine Tanner.
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The second grade student's parents contacted the Liberty Institute, a religious rights group, to ask if the little girl was actually allowed to read the Bible or not.
Attorneys for the Liberty Institute not only said it was OK to read the Bible, but sent a letter to the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District superintendent as well as the school's principal.
"We expect Cy Fair ISD officials to resolve this unfortunate incident quickly and amicably by informing us that they have addressed this matter with District employees, and by assuring us that this will not happen again," said Michael Berry, Liberty Institute Senior Counsel. "More than forty years ago, the Supreme Court famously stated that students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.' That means that second graders have the right to read the Bible during 'read to myself' time."
Cy-Fair ISD hasn't confirmed the allegation but released this statement:
"During a student's independent reading time, students are required to read a book that is 'Just Right.' A 'Just Right' book is when the student can read most of the words, comprehend the text and that the book is appropriate for the type of text or genre that is being taught. As such religious material, including the Bible, that meets these guidelines would be permissible for a classroom assignment and/or independent reading."
When contacted by Houston NBC affiliate KPRC-TV, the parents of the student at the center of all of this do not want to go public in fear of retaliation.
Liberty Institute represented the Kountze High School Cheerleaders in last year's Bible banner controversy. Cheerleaders at the southeast Texas high school won the right to display Bible verses on banners at football games. Kountze ISD is appealing the court ruling.