Judge rules Kountze ISD cheerleaders can display religious signs

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BEAUMONT, Texas - A judge has ruled that cheerleaders at a Southeast Texas high school can display banners emblazoned with Bible verses at football games.

In a summary judgment of a lawsuit filed last year by Kountze High School cheerleaders, State District Judge Steve Thomas ruled Wednesday the banners are constitutionally permissible. In a copy of the ruling obtained by Beaumont station KFDM, Thomas determined that no law "prohibits cheerleaders from using religious-themed banners at school sporting events."

The ruling ends the case in Thomas' court. The lawsuit had been scheduled for trial June 24.

In October, Thomas granted an injunction requested by the cheerleaders allowing them to continue displaying religious-themed banners pending the lawsuit's outcome. Thomas at the time said the district's ban on the practice appeared to violate free speech rights.

"High school football games are a quintessential school event and cheerleaders are a key part of that event,” said Anti-Defamation League Southwest Regional Director Martin Cominsky. “This decision flies in the face of clear U.S. Supreme Court and other rulings.  The religious banners blatantly convey a message that the school supports and promotes one religion over any other.  Not only is that inappropriate, the court should have found it unconstitutional."


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