A US school district has agreed to amend a policy that banned a primary school student from wearing a face mask with the phrase “Jesus Loves Me” on it.
The change came as part of a settlement agreement ending a federal lawsuit filed by Christian legal group ADF on behalf of the student and her parents.
The Simpson County School District in Mississippi will now have to allow students to have freedom of expression, regardless of religious belief.
According to ADF, the 9-year-old pupil named Lydia Booth wore the “Jesus Loves Me” face mask to school, but the head teacher told her to take it off and replace it with another one. ADF said Lydia had worn the mask before and school authorities didn’t express any issues with it.
Two days after she was told to remove the mask, the school announced that there was now a district-wide policy that forbids messages on masks that are “political, religious, sexual or inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment.”
ADF filed a lawsuit in November 2020 over the issue, which ended up with the district scrapping the rule.
ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross said: “Public schools have no business discriminating against a 9-year old for her religious expression.
“Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with the logos of local sports teams or even the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Lydia deserves and will now have an equal opportunity to peacefully express her beliefs.”