April 17, 2012
Vancleave, MS – Yesterday, the Jackson County School Board in Mississippi unanimously passed a student speech policy, which will allow the senior class to pick a student speaker to deliver a two-minute message before and after graduation. The contents of that speech may or may not include a prayer.
Randal Turner, Secretary of the Jackson County School District, explained, “The policy is intended to allow the graduating class to pick a speaker, who can choose to say anything that he or she wants as long as it is not vulgar. They are not speaking on behalf of the school board, but the senior class. They can choose to pray. Prayer is not vulgar.”
The 21-year veteran of the Jackson County School District told Liberty Counsel that he has not heard any complaints from the community.
As students all around the country are celebrating their graduation, Liberty Counsel will continue to stand for their first amendment rights with our annual “Friend or Foe” Graduation Prayer Campaign. Liberty Counsel seeks to educate and, if necessary, litigate to ensure that prayer and religious viewpoints are not suppressed during graduation ceremonies.
In a precedent-setting case against the ACLU, Adler v. Duval County School Board, Liberty Counsel won the right of students to pray or give religious messages at graduation. The case established the legal principle that public schools are free to adopt a policy that permits students or other speakers to present secular or religious messages at commencement ceremonies, including prayer.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented, “Randal Turner and other courageous members of the Jackson County School Board who stand for students’ first amendment rights are heroes. America needs more school board members with backbone to stand boldly against the intimidating tactics of the ACLU or Freedom From Religion Foundation. Liberty Counsel vows to stand with you against religious bigotry.”