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Texas Judge Allows Cheerleaders to Display Religious Banners

A group of Texas cheerleaders will be allowed to continue displaying banners with religious messages at their high school's football games under a temporary injunction issued Thursday by a state judge, my colleague Mark Walsh reports at The School Law Blog.

"If the temporary injunction is not issued, the [school district and superintendent's] unlawful policy prohibiting private religious expression will remain in effect and the plaintiffs will be prohibited from exercising their constitutional and statutory rights at all football games and other school sporting events," Judge Steven Thomas wrote in his order to issue the injunction.

Judge Thomas ordered Kountze Independent School District and superintendent Kevin Weldon to immediately cease and desist from displaying banners with religious messages at school sporting events, saying that the cheerleaders would "suffer a probable, imminent, and irreparable injury in the interim."

The judge also set a trial date of June 24, 2013.

For more background on the case, be sure to check out Mark's entry on The School Law Blog.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi: The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter on Wednesday to Terry Brister, superintendent of the Lincoln County School District, raising concerns about a K-12 school's "pervasive policy and practice of incorporating prayer and other religious messages into other myriad school events and activities," including school sports.

Students at West Lincoln Attendance Center in Brookhaven, Miss., are "routinely subjected to official prayer at numerous school events," the Mississippi branch of the ACLU alleges in the letter.

The letter specifically cites how football games "as recently as this month" have opened with prayers, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to the ACLU of Mississippi.

What's the difference between the Texas cheerleaders and this Mississippi school? The Texas cheerleaders have the right to free speech, but the Mississippi school isn't constitutionally allowed to push religious beliefs onto students.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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