Guide to religion in schools released in Spanish

Friday, October 16, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO — A Spanish-language version of the pamphlet, A Parent’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools, was released and plans for its dissemination were announced today at a press conference at The Freedom Forum Pacific Coast Center.

Speaking first in English and then in Spanish, First Amendment Center Board Member Dennis Hernandez said, “The guide answers common questions about school prayer, religious clubs, religious holidays and symbols and provides ways for communities to resolve disputes by finding common ground.”

It is based upon the Joint Statement of Current Law, endorsed by 35 religious and civil rights organizations, and upon President Clinton’s 1995 directive, Religious Expression in Public Schools. School districts across the United States are using the guide to help parents and educators navigate the often contentious waters of religious liberty in public schools.

During the press conference, representatives from Los Angeles Unified School District, San Diego County, and San Francisco Unified School District announced details of their plans to use the guide. These major metropolitan school districts in California will disseminate A Parent’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools to reach Spanish-speaking parents and students.

The guide will also be made available to Spanish-speaking parents throughout the nation, said Lois Jean White, National PTA president.

“The questions addressed in the guide take us to the heart of our constitutional rights and responsibilities as citizens in a democracy,” White said. “To make them available to communities where English may not be the primary language is a very important first step in involving those families more fully in the schools and in the lives of their children.”

John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, and Josefina Salas-Porras, a Freedom Forum trustee, made it clear that The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center was committed to reaching all parents and students and informing them of their First Amendment religious-liberty rights. Release of the Spanish-language edition will help expand that effort in Spanish-speaking communities around the nation.

In 1995, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (National PTA) and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center first released A Parent’s Guide to help parents understand the religious liberty rights of students and the appropriate role for religion in public school curriculum.