Prayer Room in Texas Public High School Sparks Legal Concern

A Texas public high school is facing legal scrutiny for its prayer room. In a letter for the district’s superintendent, the Attorney General’s Office warned that the school should remain neutral toward religion in its policy.

The prayer room at Frisco’s Liberty High School is reportedly dedicated to students who practice Islam. The room allows students to pray at the school campus on Fridays instead of leaving school grounds to pray.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office outlined in its letter the legal concerns raised by the prayer room, noting that it may be in violation of the First Amendment.

“Liberty High School’s policy should be neutral toward religion,” said Deputy Attorney General Andre Leonie. “However, it appears that students are being treated different based on their religious beliefs. Such a practice, of course, is irreconcilable with our nation’s enduring commitment to religious liberty.”

Leonie praised the school’s effort to create a welcoming environment for students to practice their religion, but pointed to the words of the Supreme Court, which state that “one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.”

According to Liberty High School’s news site, the prayer room is not open to students of other faiths. The room is allegedly “dedicated to the religious needs of some students,” mainly those who practice Islam.

“This is my seventh year at Liberty,” said Liberty High School Principal Scott Warstler. “My first year it kind of started when a core group of students were leaving campus every Friday for Friday prayer.”

Warstler said students would leave with their parents, and miss up to two hours of school every Friday.

“I met with those students and a couple of their parents and suggested if they would be okay if the students were able to lead the prayer at school as a group,” Warstler said.

The prayer room, Warstler said, was put in place to keep students from missing school on Friday afternoons.

Leonie has asked the school to ensure that officials allow all students of all religious denominations to use the prayer room.