On Thursday, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to Education Secretary Cardona admonishing the Department for buried changes to unassuming guidance related to prayer in public elementary and secondary schools, which is constitutionally protected. The administration’s changes jeopardize the religious freedoms of students.
In the letter, Foxx writes: “The administration’s changes to the guidance could undermine students’ rights, create ambiguity, and lead to schools infringing on the religious freedom of students. This nation has protected religious freedom since its founding and any guidance that does not protect this right should not be tolerated, especially in our public schools. The 2023 Guidance calls into question the Department’s commitment to protecting religious liberty for all elementary and secondary public-school students and therefore merits serious review.”
The letter continues: “In summary, the Department’s 2023 Guidance revokes clear language protecting students’ religious freedom while at school and unnecessarily introduces doubt about which rights of students are protected. The Department should publicly and unequivocally state that the 2023 Guidance does not undermine these constitutionally protected rights.”
Foxx concludes by asking the Department:
- Does the Department believe a school must respect a student’s decision to include religious views in a speech?
- Does the Department believe that students’ personal religious speech may be censored?
- Does the Department agree that students have a right to select group leaders who agree with their religious student group’s mission?
- What changes justify the Department’s removal of the language addressing the Equal Access Act and the leadership of religious student groups?
To read the full letter, click here.