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Mont. judge: Religious graduation speech can be barred

By The Associated Press
02.26.10

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Yellowstone County District judge has ruled that a former Butte High School student's free-speech rights were not violated when she was barred from speaking at her 2008 graduation after refusing to remove religious references from her speech.

Renee Griffith sued Butte School District No. 1 in April 2009, saying Superintendent Charles Uggetti and Principal John Metz refused to let her speak at the ceremony. She was one of 10 valedictorians who were asked to speak, but school officials reviewed the speech and said she had to remove references to God and Christ.

Judge Gregory Todd ruled on Feb. 24 that "the District's actions in the case were neither taken in response to Griffith's personal religious beliefs, as has been asserted by Griffith, nor were they unlawfully discriminatory."

He added that the school district policy barring religious references during graduation speeches was constitutional.

Griffith's attorney says he will appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.


Related

N.J. principal cuts off salutatorian's graduation speech

Jennifer Chau 'was regressing beyond what we worked with her on, and that's the end of it,' administrator says in defending decision to end unapproved remarks. 06.23.08

High court won't reinstate suit over religious graduation speech

Erica Corder had sued after school officials in Monument, Colo., punished her for urging audience at 2006 commencement to consider Christian faith. 11.30.09

Graduation ceremonies

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