(Oxford, MS) Mississippi has a long history of allowing religious speech in its schools.
Years ago, volunteers even gave schools “In God We Trust” signs for every classroom.
Now, the state has mandated every district must come up with what’s called a “Religious Expression” policy.
Oxford was among the first districts to have something in place.
”We definitely believe that students have a right to a voice and free speech in something we do pay attention to here,” said Oxford School Spokesperson Kelly Graeber.
In fact, Oxford’s policy has been in place for years and many saw it as a model for others across the state.
The policy calls for neutral selection of speakers at school events, and prevents most censorship of what they can talk about.
It also makes clear that speakers do not necessarily represent the district’s opinion.
Lafayette County schools adopted a similar, but more general, policy that allows students to submit religious writings as part of their school work, and organize prayer groups.
Leaders in Oxford say it gives students some comfort in knowing that no matter what their beliefs, they won’t face any ridicule from teachers or the district.
”That’s why we felt it was important to set a policy I place before the legislature even asked us to look at it and adopt something,” explained Graeber.
The new policies went into effect with the beginning of the new school year.