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Because CTA won a case on behalf of a member, you can have a “robust” conversation on religious topics. “As always,” says CTA General Counsel Emma Leheny, “be sensitive to students’ personal beliefs as you construct lesson plans.”
Back in 2007 a Capistrano Valley High School student sued his Advanced Placement European History teacher over remarks made regarding religion. Recognizing the importance of protecting the “robust exchange of ideas in education,” the court determined that in preparing students for “adult roles in a democratic society” teachers and schools must maintain an atmosphere of free inquiry.
“This academic freedom will sometimes lead to the examination of controversial issues,” the court wrote. “Teachers must also be given leeway to challenge students to foster critical thinking skills and develop their analytical abilities. This balance is hard to achieve, and we must be careful not to curb intellectual freedom by imposing dogmatic restrictions that chill teachers from adopting the pedagogical methods they believe are most effective.”
In the end, the federal court of appeals decided that the teacher could not be sued for damages because he did not violate a clearly established law - an argument first raised in the case by CTA staff attorney Michael Hersh.