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Sex (Mis)Education: ‘Abstinence-Only’ Programs Still Fail Public School Students

John Oliver is a comedian; his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, is satirical. But this week’s episode highlighted a real problem: Flawed sex education in public schools.

“There is no required standard for sex ed in this country,” Oliver pointed out. “In fact, only 22 states mandate that kids receive it, and only 13 require that the information presented be medically accurate.”

It’s a sorry state of affairs – “a weird patchwork system,” to quote Oliver – and it exists largely because of the Religious Right. Read more

Lookadon’t: Christian Motivational Speaker Now In Legal Trouble

Late last year, I told the tale of a public high school assembly gone terribly awry. Justin Lookadoo, a prominent Christian motivational speaker, appeared at Richardson High School in Dallas, Texas, to dispense “relationship advice” to students. In a startling twist, Lookadoo’s presentation on “Dateability” turned out to be sectarian—and sexist, too.

Just in case you’ve forgotten about him, let me remind you.
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Mississippi Burning: School Officials Coerced Students Into A Revival Meeting – And Now They’re Being Sued

The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that public schools may not impose religion on students, but some school administrators apparently don’t care.

Earlier this week, the Rankin County (Miss.) School District was sued in federal court for sanctioning evangelism during three mandatory assemblies at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood. Attorneys with the American Humanist Association (AHA) charge that Principal Charles Frazier and other school officials coerced students to attend events that featured a fundamentalist Christian video, proselytizing and prayer.   Read more

Save The Day: Religious Right Hijacks Religious Freedom Celebration

I’m all for “Religious Freedom Day,” an annual nationwide event that takes place Jan. 16 to mark the passage of one of the great milestone of freedom of conscience in America: passage of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom.

But I’m not for people using the anniversary of this important document to spread misinformation about church-state separation and religious freedom in America – and that’s just what the Religious Right is doing. Read more

See You At The Church-State Wall: Flagpole Prayer Organizers Must Play By The Rules

Tomorrow is “See You At The Pole 2011,” an annual prayer observance at public schools. Students gather around the flagpoles at their schools before classes to engage in Christian devotions.

Because most of these SYATP events are voluntary and student-initiated, they generally do not violate the constitutional separation of church and state. Each year, however, Americans United gets complaints about schools where teachers and administrators participate inappropriately. Read more

Whoa There, Cowboy!: N.C. School Promises To Rein In Graduation Sermonizing

Good news from Macon County, N.C.!

A public school system there has agreed that it made a mistake in allowing a controversial preacher to speak at Nantahala School’s graduation ceremony in June.

At the commencement, the Rev. Daniel “Cowboy” Stewart, pastor of a small Baptist church in Robbinsville, delivered a sermon to the nine graduating seniors. He brought a volunteer on stage, bound the person with a rope and then placed a bag over the volunteer’s head. The demonstration served to warn students about the machinations of Satan and included references to the Bible. Read more

Idaho Victory!: Federal Appeals Court Rejects Bible-Based Charter School Lawsuit

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) lost another battle this week in its ongoing crusade to bring religion into public schools.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Idaho Public Charter School Commission acted constitutionally when it ordered the Nampa Classical Academy not to base its curriculum on the Bible or any other religious texts.

In August 2009, the Commission told Academy officials that using religious literature as primary teaching materials violates the state constitution and would not be permitted. Read more

Triumph In Texas: State School Board Approves Sound-Science Materials

We have a victory in Texas! On Friday, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve sound-science materials for public school biology courses.

By a 14-0 vote, the board chose to approve supplemental materials from mainstream publishers, not creationism-based recommendations from Religious Right-backed vendors. Read more

Misleading Missouri Measure: Amendment Harms, Not Helps Religious Liberty

The people of Missouri deserve better.

Not only has the state’s legislature passed a measure that could open the door to government-promoted religion – it plans to deliberately mislead Missourians about it.

H.J.R. 2 will appear on the November 2012 ballot. It’s an amendment that will add language to the state’s constitution codifying the right of Missourians to express their religious beliefs in public places, including public schools. Read more