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Student sues schools over ban on religious fliers

By Associated Press
Published January 16, 2004

PEMBROKE PINES - A student is suing public school officials who stopped her from handing out fliers on campus promoting a church youth group, arguing that the ban violates her freedoms of speech and religion.

Christine Curran, 15, said a Hollywood middle school teacher told her last year she would be "written up" if she continued to pass out the fliers, which read in part: "The humor will make you laugh, the drama will challenge your heart and the pyrotechnics will keep you awake! Admission is free but a love offering will be taken."

Curran has sued the Broward County School Board in federal court, arguing that the policy is hostile toward religion.

"People should be able to make their own decisions when it comes to church and their beliefs," said Curran, now a freshman at Pembroke Pines' Flanagan High.

Board policy says a student must have an administrator's permission before passing out materials, including petitions or surveys, as well as religious, political or commercial material at school.

Board member Darla Carter said there must be rules so students can walk the hallways without having "stuff shoved at them." She said no restrictions could lead to pornography or other objectionable materials being distributed.

The suit contends the fliers should be permitted because they did not interfere with classes and the content was not obscene or defaming. It calls the policy "an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech."

[Last modified January 16, 2004, 01:33:00]

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