Mr. Lynn said he thinks broad and sweeping generalizations such as the Oneida school’s vague dress code fail most practical and constitutional measures and that the school’s action eliminates Raymond’s legitimate rights to freedom of speech and religious expression.
Mr. Donohue said that though he is sympathetic to both sides, having been a teacher before becoming president of the Catholic League, he thinks the school has gone too far for the sake of trying to prevent gang activity.
“I think ACLJ has it right in this case,” he said.
Mr. Donohue said that although there have been cases in which rosaries were used as gang symbols and schools must be careful to prevent gang violence, there is no indication in Raymond’s case of any link to gang activity. It is a delicate balance, he said, but “the school has shown they are not interested in balance.”
David Cortman, senior legal counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal group defending religious freedom, said that in such cases, schools are either ignorant of the law or are demonstrating pure hostility against religion in public schools.
“I think there’s a widespread need for schools to be educated on the First Amendment,” he said, adding that Christian students do not lose their right to religious expression when they are at school.
“Schools in general need to deal with real problems and real solutions,” Mr. Lynn said.
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Michal Elseth is an intern with the National Journalism Center working in commentary and national news for the summer. She graduated in May with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hillsdale College. Michal loves D.C. and life as a graduate, but she is actually from the other Washington and hopes to work in journalism there.
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