ACLU decision means schools must hold graduations in non-denominational locations
The Enfield Board of Education in Connecticut, USA announced on July 18 it will no longer hold graduation ceremonies at First Cathedral Church in nearby Bloomfield, Connecticut, after a federal judge granted an injunction against holding the ceremony at the church in May, 2010.
Public high schools in the district had hosted graduations at the site for many years, according to an American Civil Liberties news release. The ceremony at the church took place near a stained glass cross and beneath banners reading "Jesus Christ is Lord" and "I am God," according to the ACLU release.
"Attending graduation meant going to church," the ACLU stated in the release.
In 2010, the district agreed to hold the ceremony on school grounds, until a religious organization, the Family Institute of Connecticut, lobbied the school board to host the ceremony at First Cathedral again. Despite the facts that there were secular venues which were closer to the school than First Cathedral, and that hosting the event at First Cathedral meant giving taxpayer dollars to a religious institution, the board agreed to host it there.
However, parents and students represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Connecticut and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent the graduation from being held at the church. The judge granted an injunction for 2010, 2011 and 2012. On July 18, the board of education approved a resolution that it would not host the events at the church again in the future.
Read the ACLU release here.