Wyoming School Tells Students They Can Only Pray in Private
The principal of Glendo High School, in Wyoming told a group of students gathered to pray out loud for their meal during lunch to stop. Afterwards, Stanetta Twiford, the school’s principal, said “enough,” and accused the students of forcing their religion on others.
The principal stood by the decision, even after parents of the students confronted her and District Superintendent. Using information from the ACLU, the two administrators asserted the Constitution prohibits the prayer to a “captive audience.”
The parents took their complaints to the Alliance Defending Freedom who responded with a letter to the district on Dec. 4, threatening to take legal action if the ban persisted.
“School cafeterias are not religion-free zones, and they certainly do not involve captive audiences,” the ADF letter stated. “Students in the cafeteria are not captive audiences because they can leave at any time or turn away from the quiet prayer in the corner. … Further, students in the cafeteria are no more a captive audience than students in the hallway or students on a playground.”
The ADF informed Twiford and Fischer that non-disruptive speech occurring during “non-instructional time” must be allowed and that the Supreme Court agrees on this point.
“So long as non-disruptive speech occurs during non-instructional time, schools must allow that speech. The Supreme Court has already confirmed this very point,” the ADF added.
The school administrators have since changed their tone. In a letter to the ADF dated Dec. 17, Fischer noted that the district’s attorney agreed that the students’ prayer did not violate federal law and that he has advised Twiford “to let the students know that they can pray before meals in the manner they had in the incident in question.