Educators in public schools have more rights than you may think.

Educators Can Pray at School

According to the U.S. Dept of Education’s Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools (January 2020)

“When acting in their official capacities as representatives of the State, teachers, school administrators, and other school employees are prohibited by the First Amendment from encouraging or discouraging prayer, and from actively participating in such activity with students.

Teachers, however, may take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities. Teachers also may take part in religious activities such as prayer even during their workday at a time when it is permissible to engage in other private conduct such as making a personal phone call.  Before school or during lunch, for example, teachers may meet with other teachers for prayer or Bible study to the same extent that they may engage in other conversation or nonreligious activities. Similarly, teachers may participate in their personal capacities in privately sponsored baccalaureate ceremonies or similar events.”

Educators Can Teach About Religion

According to the US Dept. of Education Guidance

“Public schools may not provide religious instruction, but they may teach about religion, the history of religion, comparative religion, the Bible (or other religious teachings) as literature, and the role of religion in the history of the United States and other countries all are permissible public-school subjects. Similarity, it is permissible to consider religious influences on philosophy, art, music, literature, and social studies.

Although public schools may teach about religious holidays, including their religious aspects, and may celebrate the secular aspects of holidays, schools may not observe holidays as religious events or promote such observance by students.”

For a great summary of educators’ rights under the US Dept. of Education Guidance, we recommend the 5-minute video prepared by the Orange County, CA, Department of Education, which can be found here:

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