Parents sue school that forced 9-year-old to remove ‘Jesus Loves Me’ mask

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A Mississippi family is alleging religious discrimination against their third-grade daughter’s elementary school.

The parents of a nine-year-old Christian girl in Mississippi who wore a mask printed with “Jesus Loves Me” to school have filed a federal lawsuit after the girl was forced to remove the mask and replace it with one the school approved, reports Christianheadlines.com.

On Nov. 2 Matthew and Jennifer Booth filed a federal lawsuit alleging religious discrimination.

On Oct. 8, Lydia Booth, 9, wore the mask to Simpson Central School. While she attended a computer class, the teacher told her she was not allowed to wear a mask with words on it. When her parents learned of this they researched whether the school’s policy barred masks with words.

Lydia had worn the mask before without any problem and had seen other students with masks that had words on them, according to the lawsuit. Jennifer then researched whether the school’s policy barred masks with words and could not find such a reference.

Jennifer posted on her Facebook page that Lydia would wear the mask again on Oct. 13. That morning, the school’s principal contacted Jennifer Booth and said that Lydia’s mask broke the school’s dress code, according to the lawsuit. The code prohibits “clothing, advertising, alcoholic beverages or drug culture, clothing with obscene language or gestures or clothing of any suggestive nature.”

The principal of the school poked her head into the classroom and winked at Lydia, and then the teacher’s assistant asked Lydia to change her mask before lunch. Lydia then replaced the mask with one with a panda on it, the lawsuit claims.

The Booths’ lawsuit notes that the school’s “Religious Speech Policy prohibits messages on masks that are “political, religious, sexual or inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment.”

The lawsuit states that the censorship of the student’s religious message, and the “Religious Speech Policy and practice on which that censorship is based, violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Lydia and her family.

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