Note that this is not a case of a child who was making any attempts to teach or proselytize her her fellow students. It was an event that was essentially a Christmas version of the time-honored elementary school practice of Show-and-Tell.
Even though I am fully aggravated at this story, I should share an event from the days (early 90's) when my oldest was in Kindergarten to offer some reasons for much-needed levity.
Although I had smoked for a few of my foolish years, I had quit by the time I was discharged from the Marines. While I was still on active duty, I had been given a Zippo lighter with the US Marine Corps insignia of the eagle, globe, and anchor. My daughter noticed the lighter one day when she - as little girls do when they want to explore their fathers's past, was going through my things. She asked what it was, and I explained that I used to smoke but that I had stopped. Apparently taking a shine to the colorful enameling and having some childlike appreciation for when I was "at the in the Marines", she then asked if she could "have it". After I checked that the fluid wadding was dry and removed the flint, I turned over the relic of my less-than-prudent youth to her keeping.
You see where this is going, don't you?
A few weeks later, when I was working evening shifts, she had failed to remind her mother (who also forgot) that Friday was show-and-tell. My mother had come to the house in the morning to watch my daughter, who took the initiative and brought the lighter to school to share with the class.
At the end of the school day, my daughter's book-bag contained note from the teacher (who appropriately for the grade had a German surname), in which her Mom was informed in no uncertain terms that the lighter was not an appropriate item to share with the class and that it should not even have been brought to school in the first place.
About a month later, she again made her own decision and took a gambling chip from Atlantic City (For the record, this was the only time in my entire life that I had engaged in risking my money in such a manner- it was after a training seminar when I played the $5 dollar Blackjack table for about a half and hour), back to the scene of the original crime for another attempt at a successful show-and-tell. I was not informed about this choice by letter, but by my ever-loyal daughter later in the evening. Trying to contain my feeling of horror and wondering if the Division of Youth and Family Services was about to knock on my front door, I asked if the teacher had said anything about the chip. She replied that the teacher had not voiced any concern, and I held my breath for about two weeks after that.
From that point on, show-and-tell day was a serious matter that was assigned a very high priority in our home.
Now, back to truly serious matters.
"The parents of a six-year-old girl said their daughter was humiliated when a teacher interrupted the child’s one-minute speech and told her to sit down because she’s “not allowed to talk about the Bible in school,” attorneys for the California family allege.
The incident occurred Dec. 19 inside a first grade classroom at Helen Hunt-Jackson Elementary School in Temecula, Calif. The previous day the teacher instructed boys and girls to find something at home that represented a family Christmas tradition. They were supposed to bring the item to school and share the item in a classroom presentation.
Brynn Williams decided to bring the Star of Bethlehem that adorned the top of her family’s Christmas tree. She also worked on a one minute presentation to explain that her family’s tradition is to remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.
“Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree,” the little girl said. “The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The three kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world.”
Before the child could utter another word, the teacher intervened, according to Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom – the law firm representing the Williams family.
“Brynn’s teacher said, ‘Stop right there! Go take your seat,’” Tyler said. “Bryn was not allowed to finish her presentation by reciting the Bible verse, John 3:16.”
Tyler said the little girl was the only student in the class not allowed to finish her presentation.
“After Brynn took her seat, the teacher explained to Brynn in front of all the other students that she was not allowed to talk about the Bible or share its verses,” Tyler said.........."
“The principal confirmed that Brynn’s teacher did the appropriate thing by stopping her mid-presentation and there are specific education codes that protect the school,” Williams said. “
The principal then asked Brynn, who had tears in her eyes, to come into her office and deliver the same presentation that was censored in the classroom. Afterwards, the principal stood by her decision.
“She confirmed there was no way Brynn could finish that presentation,” the disappointed mom told me. It was to protect the other students from being offended by Brynn’s presentation.”.........
“The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation’s public schools has become epidemic,” he said, warning that should the school district ignore their concerns, they will file a lawsuit.
Tyler said it’s clear that the district violated Brynn’s constitutional rights.
“Any act to suppress a student’s free speech, in this case censorship of Brynn’s presentation of her family traditions, has violated Brynn’s constitutional rights unless the school district can reasonably conclude that Brynn’s speech was going to materially and substantially disrupt the school’s work or discipline,” he wrote in a letter to the school district. “Here, the school district cannot reasonably come to that conclusion.”......."