Freedom X Sues Huntington Beach School District Over Religious Flyer Ban

On Monday, January 7, 2019,   Freedom filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in Orange County, CA, against a school district for prohibiting two elementary school children from distributing flyers promoting Bring Your Bible to School Day.

The complaint alleges that the Huntington Beach City School District violated 10-year-old 4th grader Micah’s and 8-year-old second grader Nieka’s first amendment free speech and free exercise of religion rights by preventing them from promoting the religious event. 

For several years, Focus on the Family has sponsored its nationwide Bring Your Bible to School Day event designed to empower students to celebrate religious freedom—and share God’s hope with their friends—by taking a simple action: bringing their Bible to school.

Read the Complaint

Last October, Holly and Jason Bausch’s two sons, enrolled at John R. Peterson Elementary School in  Huntington Beach, CA, sought their school’s permission to distribute their flyers at lunch and recess announcing Bring Your Bible to School Day. Under well-settled constitutional law, the First Amendment applies to all student oral expression and literature distribution during non-instructional time, regardless of religious content. School officials may not prohibit this expression out of fear that allowing religious speech will offend some members of the community.
This, by the way, is a school district that has no trouble teaching Islam. But that’s another story. When the two brothers sought to obtain the school’s permission, they were in for a rude awakening. Despite being provided with a legal analysis explaining the boys’ right to hand out their flyers, the school’s principal, Constance E. Polhemus, responded to their mother, “As a public school we cannot approve the distribution of religious materials to students during school hours.”

Freedom president and chief counsel Bill Becker stated, “Principle Polhemus and the Huntington Beach City School District are about to learn a hard lesson in constitutional law. Students, regardless of grade level, have a First Amendment right to express a religious viewpoint to another student, including the right to distribute religious flyers, without fear.”

Becker added, “One wonders how school administrators come to believe that the voluntary expression of religious viewpoints in a public school is somehow forbidden but everything else (including the perverse indoctrination of LGBT propaganda) is permissible.”

Freedom has resolved numerous cases similiar to this one in its clients’ favor.  The United States District Court, Central District-California, Southern Division case number is 19cv00027.