FFRF stops teacher’s religious questioning (June/July 2023)

A Texas elementary school in the Mineral Wells Independent School District has taken action to prevent teachers from discussing religion with students after a discriminatory lesson occurred.

A concerned Houston Elementary School parent contacted FFRF to report that on Nov. 7, 2022, the physical education teacher, as part of a lesson on diversity, asked third-grade students to raise their hands if they went to church. When a student did not raise their hand, the teacher reportedly directed sad looks at the student for the rest of the lesson, causing the student to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. As a result of the lesson, fellow students asked throughout the rest of the day if the student really did not attend church or believe in God. Additionally, FFRF was informed that at least one other teacher promoted religion via options in their classroom prize box.

“Religion is often a divisive force in public schools, with minority religious and nonreligious students experiencing ostracization and even bullying for publicly identifying themselves as non-Christian,” FFRF Equal Justice Works Fellow Kat Grant wrote in a letter to Superintendent John Kuhn.

Kuhn replied to FFRF via email: “The principal informed the teacher that she should not inquire about students’ church attendance or religious beliefs. The teacher apologized for her error and said she did not mean to offend anyone.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation