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‘Jesus Loves Me’ Mask Now Allowed in Mississippi School District Following Legal Battle

Lydia Booth
Screengrab via WLBT

A Mississippi school district has reversed its policy prohibiting students from wearing face masks emblazoned with religious messages after a legal dispute that began in the Fall of 2020 when third grader Lydia Booth was required to remove her “Jesus Loves Me” mask in favor of a school-provided mask with no imagery.

Booth, who was nine years old at the time the dispute began amid school re-openings after the temporary shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, was told that her protective mask violated a Simpson County School District policy barring masks that included “political, religious, sexual or any inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment.” 

However, Booth’s parents, Matthew and Jennifer, claimed that the policy was changed to include such language only after they objected to their daughter being prohibited from wearing her mask. 

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represented the Booths in the federal lawsuit against the school district. 

In 2020, ADF senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said of the case, “When the school is discriminating against individuals who want to wear masks expressing religious beliefs but are allowing students and faculty to wear masks expressing messages with other beliefs, that’s not allowed by the First Amendment.”

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“[Lydia] told her parents she wants to be a missionary, and that’s why she wants to wear this mask,” Langhofer said. “It made her really sad when she was forced to remove this mask because the message means something to her, and it’s her choice to wear it.”

Despite the dispute, Lydia said at the time that her stand against religious discrimination had sparked curiosity among her classmates about Christianity, even inspiring an older sister of one of her classmates to embark on a journey to read the entire Bible. 

The suit argued that Simpson County School District had allowed students “to wear masks and other clothing with a wide variety of expressive messages during school, including ‘Black Lives Matter’ and masks and shirts promoting many sports teams,” but specifically singled out Lydia for her Christian beliefs.  

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In 2020, Simpson County Schools Superintendent Greg Paes sent a letter to parents defending the district’s actions.