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Texas School Board's Rejection of Arabic Sign May Be Unlawful

Activist could use case to challenge SB 797
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2022 12:07 PM CDT

A Texas school district rejected "In God We Trust" signs printed in Arabic on Monday, despite a state law requiring that donated signs be displayed. The signs offered to the Carroll Independent School District by parent Sravan Krishna during a board meeting fit the parameters of Senate Bill 797, which requires that public schools and universities display a sign featuring the national motto if donated by a private entity or purchased with donated funds, so long as it is framed or on durable poster board and includes an American flag. There's no mention of the phrase needing to be in English. Yet board president Cameron Bryan refused the posters, as well as others printed in rainbow colors representing the LGBTQ+ community, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"The statute does not contemplate requiring the district to display more than one copy at a time," Bryan told Krishna, claiming the district already had enough posters to display at each of its schools following donations from Christian conservative wireless provider Patriot Mobile, which has boasted of "bringing God back into our public schools!" Indeed, the law "limits displays to one poster or framed copy in an effort not to overwhelm schools with donations," Bryan said. Krishna shot back that the law does not mention any limit on the number of posters to be displayed. "That is your decision to stop at one," he said, per KTRK. "Are you saying you don't have like one square foot of space in our buildings?"

Krishna told journalist Steven Monacelli that his offer of posters created by the Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition was in response to concerns over a state law "done by opportunists with a political agenda." The SARC has panned the law as a "blatant intrusion of religion in what should be a secular public institution." "We wanted to celebrate this in a different way by including other people," Krishna said, adding he tried last week to get on the agenda for Monday's meeting but was unsuccessful, which is why he spoke during a public comment period. Chaz Stevens, a Florida activist who's raised tens of thousands of dollars to distribute alternative "In God We Trust" signs, previously told the Washington Post if posters were rejected he would sue in an attempt to challenge the law. (Read more Texas stories.)

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