Coronavirus: Mississippi third-grader’s ‘Jesus loves me’ face mask sparks lawsuit

PINOLA, Miss. — A federal lawsuit has been filed after a Mississippi elementary school prohibited a third-grade student – or any student – from expressing her faith through her mandated face mask.

According to WLBT, Lydia Booth wore a face covering with the words “Jesus loves me” on Oct. 13, but the principal of Simpson Central School insisted she remove the face covering and replace it with another one.

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Two days later the school issued a statement banning any mask that displays “political, religious, sexual or any inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment.”

Alliance Defending Freedom has since filed a federal lawsuit on the family’s behalf, alleging the school district infringed on Booth’s First Amendment right to free speech, WLBT reported.

In an article published by the alliance, ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross stated public schools have a “duty to respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them.”

“...Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with the logos of local sports teams or even the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This student deserves an equal opportunity to peacefully express her beliefs,” Ross added.

The child’s mother, Jennifer Booth, has also argued that the school’s handbook does not specifically prohibit students' religious expression and technically protects her daughter’s freedom of speech via the Mississippi Student Religious Freedom Act, WLBT reported.


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