Religion in the Public Schools

School districts have to navigate seemingly contradictory legal requirements in the area of religion in public schools. Schools cannot establish religion by coercing, endorsing, or promoting religious views in schools. At the same time, schools cannot interfere with individuals’ free expression of their beliefs. Fortunately, legal authority exists to help districts effectively address the issues that may arise regarding religious expression in public schools. TASB Legal Services has provided several resources to assist districts in applying these basic legal principles.

TASB resources

Below are links to publications by TASB Legal Services that address religion issues in public schools:
  • TASB Legal Services’ outline Religion in the Public Schools (pdf) covers a range of issues including religion in schoolwork, student speakers, distribution of materials, and employee religious expression, among others.
  • TASB Legal Services’ outline Student Religious Expression (pdf) addresses religious expression by students at school and gives examples of when students’ personal expression is protected by law.
  • TASB Legal Services' outline Employee Religious Expression (pdf) includes a discussion of the balance between an employee's rights to exercise his or her religious beliefs with the constitutional limitations imposed on governmental employers.
  • TASB Legal Services article Prayer at School Board Meetings (pdf) addresses first amendment issues related to prayer at board meetings.
  • TASB Legal Services’ article Teaching about Religion in Public Schools (pdf) addresses religion in school curriculum, religious art and music, and parental objections to school curriculum.
  • TASB Legal Services' article Student Speakers at School Events (pdf) discusses student speeches at school assemblies, graduation, and other school events, as well as student-led prayer.
  • TASB Legal Services' Employee and Student Legal Issues Related to the Holiday Season (pdf) addresses legal issues that arise in the winter holiday season.