New York Judge Rules Teacher Cannot Display Christian Items in Her Classroom

A judge with the U.S. District Court in New York ruled last weekend that officials at the Cheektowaga Central School District had the right to remove posters, notes and other Christian-themed items from a science teacher’s classroom. The teacher, Joelle Silver at Cheektowaga Central High School, had filed a lawsuit against the school district saying it was unfair to require her to remove the items when a social worker on campus was permitted to display pro-gay rights materials—including posters, bumper stickers and decals—inside and outside her office.

Judge Leslie G. Foschio dismissed part of Silver’s complaint but concluded that the lawsuit could advance her objection to the selective enforcement of equal protection.

In June 2012, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the school district in protest of the religious imagery in Silver’s classroom. FFRF said an anonymous student had reported the display.

“Teachers should strive to conduct their classes in an inclusive manner so that students can participate fully without compromising their own personal beliefs,” wrote FFR’s staff attorney.

In response to this letter, the school district removed the Christian imagery from the classroom. Silver filed her complaint against the district in January 2013.

Silver is being represented by the American Freedom Law Center, who has confirmed that “this fight is far from over.” Robert Muise, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, commented that the judge’s report and recommendation “is dripping with hostility to religion.”


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