Lydia Booth, 9, was ordered by her principal to remove the mask Oct. 13 at Simpson Central Elementary School in Pinola — claiming that it went against district policy, news station WLBT reported.
The school later issued a statement banning any mask that displays “political, religious, sexual or any inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Monday on her family’s behalf claiming the district violated her free speech.
“Public schools have a duty to respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them,” ADF attorney Michael Ross said.
“Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with the logos of local sports teams or even the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This student deserves an equal opportunity to peacefully express her beliefs.”
Tyson Langhofer, who is senior counsel at the ADF, added that the school’s actions upset the third-grader, news station WBRC reported.
“She’s 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.”
An attorney for the Simpson County School Board said the district hasn’t been served in the lawsuit but doesn’t comment on potential litigation, WBRC reported.