Fifth Grader Speaks After Request Denied

In Washington state, an elementary school is facing accusations of religious discrimination after denying a fifth-grade girl's request to start an interfaith prayer group. The incident has sparked controversy and raised questions about the school's policies regarding religion and student clubs.

The student, eleven-year-old Laura, attends Creekside Elementary and has reportedly been feeling alone in her classroom and the larger school community. After discussing her feelings with friends who felt the same way, Laura came up with the idea of starting a prayer group to bring people together and do good in the community. According to Laura, the interfaith prayer group aimed to welcome all students, regardless of their religion.

The issue came to light when First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit Christian legal organization, sent a letter to Issaquah School District officials on behalf of Laura, another unidentified student, and their parents. The letter stated that the school's denial of the interfaith prayer group while allowing other clubs to form was a violation of the Constitution and constituted religious discrimination against an eleven-year-old student.

Kayla Toney, associate counsel at First Liberty Institute, spoke to "Fox News @ Night," stressing that banning the formation of a religious club while allowing other clubs to exist is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Toney also noted that school officials at Creekside Elementary were discriminating against a student who simply wanted to pray, find support among other religious friends, and engage in community service.

Laura and her mother reportedly met with the Creekside principal in February to discuss the matter. At the meeting, the principal claimed that all funding for student clubs had been allocated back in October, making it impossible to approve the interfaith prayer group. However, just the week before, an LGBTQ Pride club had been allowed to launch.

The incident at Creekside Elementary is reminiscent of a similar case that occurred at Bremerton High School in Washington, where Coach Joe Kennedy was fired for praying on the football field after games. The Supreme Court later ruled in Kennedy's favor, emphasizing that the First Amendment protects the right to express religious beliefs in public schools. Kennedy was eventually reinstated as coach.

According to First Liberty, the Court's decision in Kennedy's case highlights the fact that the First Amendment "doubly protects religious speech." This protection extends to elementary school students who express their sincere religious beliefs through voluntary clubs. Therefore, the school's refusal to allow the interfaith prayer group is a violation of both the Free Exercise Clause and the Free Speech Clause.

As the disagreement between Creekside Elementary and Laura's legal representatives continues, the school and Issaquah School District have remained silent on the matter. Fox News Digital's attempts to reach out for comment were unsuccessful. It remains to be seen how the school and district will respond to the accusations of religious discrimination and potential violations of the First Amendment.

In the meantime, the focus remains on the importance of protecting students' rights to express their religious beliefs and forming clubs that promote inclusivity and community service.

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