A Texas middle school has backtracked and will now allow its students to pray openly during lunch again after forcing them to hide any praying from the view of other students.
Hannah Allen, an eighth-grade student at Honey Grove Middle School, and a group of other students gathered together in early September to pray for a classmate who had been in an accident.
The group met during lunch, walked over to an empty table, held hands and prayed.
However, Principal Lee Frost immediately interrupted the students and told them, “Ya’ll don’t do that again,” even though it was student-led and student-initiated prayer.
The next day, Frost told Allen and the other students they could only pray behind the cafeteria stage curtain, outside or when no one else was in the gym.
First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal organization, quickly defended the students and the school Principal Frost’s actions violated their rights.
“Students should not have to hide or be exiled to pray for each other,” said Keisha Russell, associate counsel for First Liberty Institute in a letter. Russell continued, “School officials need to remember that students don’t lose their First Amendment rights at the school house gate. We’re hoping this issue can be resolved quickly and easily.”
School officials quickly reversed the policy after receiving the letter from First Liberty.
Now, Allen and her friends are able to pray in front of other students.
Officials corrected their policy and students, including Hannah, are now allowed to pray in front of other students as long as it is not disruptive of normal school activities. It’s not known if Frost, whose wife Kristi is a math teacher at the school, apologized to the students.
“We are grateful to Honey Grove school district officials for acting swiftly to ensure that students can freely exercise their right to pray,” said Russell. “Students are free to pray together at school as long as it’s not disruptive. Our client is very pleased that she and her friends can continue to pray together for each other, their fellow classmates, and their teachers.”