Michigan student Elizabeth Turner is fighting back after her public high school told her not to include certain religious content in her upcoming valedictory speech for graduation.
Hillsdale High School Principal Amy Goldsmith took issue with the portion of Turner’s draft that mentioned her belief in Jesus Christ, according to a complaint obtained by Fox News. Sent by First Liberty on Wednesday, the complaint alleges that the Michigan school violated federal law allowing private religious speech at school events.
Turner’s draft speech read: “For me, my future hope is found in my relationship with Christ. By trusting in him and choosing to live a life dedicated to bringing his kingdom glory, I can be confident that I am living a life with purpose and meaning.”
“My identity is found by what God says and who I want to become is laid out in scripture. Whether we want to admit it or not, not one of us can be certain of how our lives will unfold, but we do know that trials will come. The reality of this is that we face an unpredictable future, and while we are making all these plans to prepare, ultimately none of us are promised tomorrow, making it all the more important to make today count.”
A screenshot attached to the letter shows Goldsmith highlighting that portion in a Google doc and urging Turner not to use religious language.
“[Y]ou are representing the school in the speech, not using the podium as your public forum,” said Goldsmith.
“We need to be mindful about the inclusion of religious aspects. These are your strong beliefs, but they are not appropriate for a speech in a school public setting. I know this will frustrate you, but we have to be mindful of it.”
Even though Turner’s remarks would be given at a public graduation, First Liberty argued that they constituted private and legally protected speech.
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