BISD students' rights violated?

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas sent the Brownsville Independent School District a public information request Thursday.

The ACLU is asking the largest school district in South Texas about their policies regarding students' rights to freely express their faith - including through clothing or articles of faith.

ACLU Legal Director Lisa Graybill is also requesting information about any recent policy changes at Rivera High School that prohibits students from wearing rosaries and crosses to school.

Lisa Graybill said this is just one of many complaints the group receives each month.

"By coincidence, we sent all 1,040 districts in the state of Texas, letters reminding those school districts of their obligations under a state law called the Texas Religious Freedom Act."

BISD Spokeswoman Drue Brown confirms the district received the request and said they will answer the ACLU TMs questions.

However, Brown adds that the policies are nothing new, and have been included in the student handbook since the school board approved it back in 1998.

Item 15 on page 41 states, The following items are specifically prohibited, and shall not be worn or brought onto school property: metal chains, pet collars, and religious symbols which have been altered with the intent of causing offense or inciting or promoting gang activity, violence, or other prohibited behaviors..."

The ACLU argues the First and 14th Amendment in the American Constitution gives students the right to wear religious attire in school.

"The (BISD)|can not substantially burden the individual's freedom to exercise his or her religion without a compelling interest," Graybill said.

Brown said the district is requesting rosaries remain hidden to discourage any type of gang activity, but Graybill said the group will investigate if the district has a reasonable concern, backed up by facts.