As a service to the community, many schools allow community organizations to distribute informational materials to students and parents regarding the services and activities they provide and to use school facilities for their meetings and activities. Religious groups and churches have a First Amendment right to use these same methods to communicate their message to the public.
Religious community groups can:
- Distribute written materials on the same terms if a school permits community groups to distribute flyers and literature to students, such as through a take-home flyer program, school website, or literature rack.
- Use the facilities for religious meetings, worship services, student clubs, and other activities if a school permits community groups to use school facilities before or after school for meetings or events.
- Ban churches from distributing flyers promoting church-sponsored events while permitting nonreligious community groups to promote their activities to students.
- Ban religious community groups from using school facilities for their activities if they have opened their facilities for use by nonreligious groups.
Watch out for:
- Policies that stop the distribution of religious or proselytizing written materials by community groups or that deny religious community groups access to use school facilities for their meetings and activities.
- Policies that charge religious groups that run programs for children more to rent school facilities than other community groups like the Boy and Girl Scouts.
- A community-sponsored Bible club for students at an Oklahoma elementary school was stopped from promoting its meetings through the school’s take-home flyer program and other methods even though nonreligious community groups were permitted to do so. After Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of the group, the school district revised its policies so that the religious group received equal treatment.
- An after-school Bible club in Pennsylvania was charged $1,200 to rent school facilities for its meetings, while other non-profit groups, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, were given free access. Alliance Defending Freedom Allied Attorneys filed a lawsuit challenging the fees, resulting in the Bible club receiving free access once again.