An Illinois valedictorian may pursue legal action against his high school after he says administrators told him to remove references to his Christian faith from his graduation speech.
In his speech, Sam Blackledge's wrote, "The most important thing in your life is to find… intimacy with God. As you search for goodness, justice, love, and forgiveness, know that only God is big enough to provide that for you."
The valedictorian at West Prairie High School in Sciota, Illinois says he turned in a copy of his speech before graduation for review by administrators.
Ten minutes before the graduation ceremony, Blackledge says school officials told him he was not allowed to talk about his faith and must remove parts of the speech that mentioned God and Jesus.
Blackledge told local media, "There's always people out there that will go against what I have to say, and nobody always agrees, but I believe this is the truth. It's impacted my life, and I wanted to share the hope of Christ with others."
His attorney, Jeremy Dys with First Liberty Institute, said the speech was protected by the First Amendment and that the school district "violated the Constitution."
Dys said, "They'd do well to remember, as 'Tinker v. Des Moines,' the case in 1969, reminds us, that students do not shed their constitutional rights when they walk through the schoolhouse gates."
Blackledge will meet with school officials Wednesday to discuss the matter.
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