A federal appeals court has upheld a Texas Education Agency (TEA) policy that prevents staff from expressing any opinion about curriculum issues, such as the role of religion in science classes.
Christina Castillo Comer, who had served as the director of science curriculum for the TEA for nearly 10 years, was forced to resign for forwarding an e-mail to 36 science teachers and leaders of science teacher organizations announcing a lecture criticizing creationism.
Barbara Forrest, a professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and co-author of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, was scheduled to discuss attacks on evolution. (Forrest is a member of the Americans United Board of Trustees.)
After sending the announcement, TEA officials charged Comer with failing to remain neutral on the science curriculum. Comer filed the lawsuit asserting that the neutrality policy violated the Constitution because it endorsed a particular religious view.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that “we find it hard to imagine circumstances in which a TEA employee’s inability to publicly speak out for or against a potential subject for the Texas curriculum would be construed or perceived as the State’s endorsement of a particular religion.” (Comer v. Scott)