Discussion Post directions, candidates’ response posts to their classmates should include (a) their reactions to classmates’ postings, (b) how/why their actions would be similar or different, and (c) additional case law and statutes that could have been included, and (d) at least two questions that are thought provoking and probing. Discussion responses should be between 2-4 paragraphs in length (i.e., 75-100 words) and should contain grammatically correct sentences that have been thought out and encourage further discussion.
This scenario is complicated in that the non-profit organizations are allowed to hand out flyers and display materials during lunch and the Gideons want students to be allowed to have access to Bibles during that same time which happens to be a non-instructional time. I understand why the Gideons would make this request, but because this is an elementary school, the Equal Access Act does not apply to this particular scenario. This law applies only to public secondary schools which allows for student-lead noncurricular groups (Stader, 2013). With that being said, it is important for the principal to take the most appropriate steps in handling this situation.
I believe, based off of my readings and research, that the principal should not allow the Gideons to make Bibles available to students or allow non-profit organizations to hand out flyers and other materials during the school day. This decision would eliminate any possible discrimination issues between the two groups. I believe that if the principal were not to allow the Gideons the opportunity to make Bibles available, it would be considered discriminatory because other outside organizations were allowed to hand out materials. Stader (2013) stated, “School officials may impose reasonable rules and regulations to maintain order, but may not discriminate against religiously based activities.”
According to Stader (2013), “Students may read a Bible or other religious material, or engage other consenting students in religious discussion during noninstructional time such as lunch, recess, or passing time between classes.” Although students may read the Bible during noninstructional time, the law prohibits the distribution of Bibles in public schools. The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) stated, “It is unconstitutional for public school districts to allow these groups to distribute bibles in classrooms during the school day.” They go on to state, “This means that Gideons cannot be present inside your child’s classroom or on public school grounds to distribute bibles.” Students may bring their own personal Bibles, but students, especially elementary aged students, may not be coerced into reading a Bible or receiving a Bible by any persons inside a public school. FFRF stated:
Courts have determined that allowing bible distribution at public schools—especially to elementary students who cannot make the distinction between private religious speech and state-sponsored speech—is unconstitutional not only because it appears to be government endorsement of Christianity, but also because of the social pressures student feel to accept the bibles.
I think that it is important for the principal to communicate to all outside organizations the reasons for his/her actions and decisions. Most people/organizations are unaware of the laws and ethics that public schools must abide by. The use of discourse ethics can be used to properly address this issue in order to maintain positive relationships with organizations within the community.