Public school districts, including the San Diego Unified School District, are required by the federal government to allow students to exercise their rights of religious freedom at school during non-instructional time, including lunch, recess or other breaks.
These activities must be student-led and student initiated. These activities must be supervised by a staff person at all times, serving in a custodial capacity. Staff may not lead on-campus religious activities, nor are they permitted to participate.
The same legal guidelines that permit prayer at school also permit students to wear crosses and stars of David, yarmulkes and place ash on their foreheads. Schools may not discourage nor encourage these practices.
Under the federal Equal Access Act, student religious groups at schools receiving federal funds have the same right of access to school facilities as that enjoyed by other student groups.
Specific guidelines are detailed on the U.S. Department of Education website, www.ed.gov. There are a number of guidelines and documents that address the issue of prayer in schools, including Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, February 7, 2003.
California's standards respond to this issue by supporting the frequent study and discussion of fundamental principles embodied in the United States Constitution. Learn more by reviewing the History-Social Science Framework; for a summary of the framework as it applies to religion and the teaching of History -- Social Science, click on Appendixes and view Appendix C.
The state's Content Standards include the study of non-Western ancient world civilizations -- looking specifically at their geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures. See the Grade 6 Course of Study as an example. This Course of Study includes the Bible and the Koran on the list of literature resources.