Students sue Mechanicsburg schools over Bible handout issue

Carlisle/West Shore

Students in a Christian club have sued the Mechanicsburg Area School District, claiming their free speech and civil rights were violated when they were denied permission to hand out Bibles.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania by the Christians in Action Club and its student leaders, their parents, and the Independence Law Center.

The students are challenging a policy that allows the distribution of non-school literature only on public sidewalks bordering school property 30 minutes before the start of school and 30 minutes after the end of school unless the principal determines otherwise.

The Christians in Action Club says the rule is overbroad and unconstitutionally grants unbridled discretion to the principal to deny or approve any student distribution of written materials.

In their lawsuit, the group leaders say high school principal David Harris denied their request to hand out Bibles at lunch. At the beginning of the school year, they say Harris also denied permission to post flyers for club meetings unless they removed a Bible verse.

The district did not return a request for comment. It previously said it is not changing its position.

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