First Amendment

5th-Grader's Church Christmas Party Fliers at Center of Discrimination Lawsuit

A Christian-based group of lawyers filed a federal discrimination lawsuit in Scranton on Friday after a fifth-grade girl’s request to distribute fliers for her church Christmas party was denied by a Pennsylvania school district.

The Alliance Defense Fund filed the suit against the Pocono Mountain School District on behalf of an unidentified student at Barrett Elementary Center in Cresco, the Scranton Times Tribune reported. The suit claims the school district’s decision to prohibit the girl’s church fliers infringed on her constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection and discriminated against her “religious viewpoint.”

“Other students can hand out fliers for birthday parties, pizza parties, and Halloween parties,” ADF attorney David Cortman said, Fox News reports. According to Cortman, district policies forbid any student speech advertising Christianity.

The unnamed girl was handing out fliers for a church party scheduled for Dec. 10 when she was stopped by a teacher and told that the principal must approve the fliers prior to their distribution, says the Scranton Times Tribune. According to the suit, the school’s superintendent, Dwight Pfenning, eventually denied the request.

The suit is asking the court to label the district’s policies and practices unconstitutional, pay reasonable attorney fees and award “nominal damages.”

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