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Student Allowed to Sit Out Pledge of Allegiance, Says New Town Public School District

For Immediate Release


Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, 202-38-9088 ext. 120, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, dniose@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C., Sept. 24, 2014)—In response to a letter from the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the New Town Public School District in New Town, North Dakota, agreed to allow a student to remain seated during the school’s daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

“All students have the right to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance, and we’re pleased that the school has agreed to uphold that right,” said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

On September 12, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the school district on behalf of parents Jesse Moore and Kristina Leiffer, whose six-year-old son had been reprimanded by his teacher for exercising his right to refrain from participating in the school’s Pledge exercise. The couple contacted the AHLC through the website DontSaythePledge.com. When the boy opted to sit quietly at his seat in an undisruptive manner, his teacher insisted that he stand and even physically forced him from his chair. However, the school district has now informed the legal center that the child may remain seated in the classroom during recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance and that he will not be punished for doing so.

“In allowing students to exercise their right to sit out the Pledge, the school district is respecting all children, including humanist and other nontheist children who may object to the phrase ‘under God,’” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. 

A copy of the letter originally sent to the school district can be found here, and the school district’s response can be viewed here


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.