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Can religion be taught in public school?

Is religion allowed to be taught in public schools? What can you do if you feel your child's school has stepped over its boundaries?

The law requires that schools allow students to freely exercise their religious convictions also states that schools can't establish religion. So, how far can students go when expressing what they believe, and how far can the school go in allowing religion in the school curriculum or social atmosphere?

A school district can't allow students to conduct prayers over the loudspeaker. Schools sometimes take "moments of silence" in place of this. Students of varied religions should be given the same rights and responsibilities as other students. Can the school require the pledge of allegiance with the use of the words "under God," in public schools? This is still being determined.

In a learning environment, it's okay to teach about religion as long as they are presented as a cultural text. Teaching the documents as a singular truth would be against the law. Similarly, a child can wear a religious outfit to school, but the school can't forbid the attire or give special treatment to those of a particular religion.

It's also okay to allow school-sponsored gospel choirs to perform songs of praise. Even though the choir is singing religious music, the music is being used to teach vocal control and artistic concepts. Schools cannot forbid students to pray as long as the student is not disrupting others.

If you feel the school has violated one of these examples or hurt your child through the use or restriction or religion, you may have questions about your legal options. He or she can provide the answers you need.

Source: Center for Public Education, "Religion and Public Schools," accessed Dec. 29, 2016

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