Lufkin girls soccer team loses banquet venue after complaint

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Lufkin High School girls soccer team's season ended with a loss in the post season last Thursday.

But the team still has their end of the year banquet to look forward to.

"It's a whole ceremony about the year and we're going to have a highlight video and it shows the fun parts of the year," said Lauren Flowers, Junior, Outside Defense.

The Booster Club had planned for the event to be held at the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall.

But after an anonymous complaint about the venue, boosters were told the party had to be moved.

"Schools are required as an arm of the government to remain neutral on matters of religion," said Wayne Haglund, Lufkin ISD Attorney.

Now the club is working to find a new venue at the last minute.

"Its probably is trouble for them because we don't want to have it at a place that's too expensive and we don't want it at a place that's too big," said Katelynne Flowers, a junior outside midfield.

School Attorney Wayne Haglund said school is a neutral place and people don't want to have religion forced upon them.

"When you go into a church there are crosses and there are stained glass window and there are religious symbols everywhere and while those are sacred to many, they are not to all," said Haglund.

Soccer player Lauren Flowers says their banquet is about soccer and enjoying memories. There is no pressure to be a part of the church.

"It's not like its teaching us about God because it's at a church; it's a soccer banquet. It's going to be about the year. It's not influencing us to go to church," said Flowers.

In the past, the district has been charged by the American Civil Liberties Union for violating the First Amendment, by hosting various school events at churches.

Officials say the only way to stay neutral is to use a school facility or another public venue.

"Somebody is going to be offended and somebody is going to be upset, and our job is to educate kids not make case laws," said Haglund.

The district has offered the team the cafeteria for their banquet.

Booster Club President Doug Russell is meeting with Superintendent Knight Thursday morning to discuss other venue options.

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