For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, email@example.com
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C., Oct. 24, 2014)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center received a response from the San Jacinto Unified School District in San Jacinto, California, making assurances that a student who was threatened with punishment for exercising his right to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance will receive an apology from the school district.
“We’re pleased that the school district has recognized the rights of students to remain seated during the Pledge, as well as the need to keep references to prayer and other religious practices out of the classroom,” said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
The district is responding to a letter sent on October 9 by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center concerning a seventh grade student at Monte Vista Middle School, who was threatened with discipline after opting out of the Pledge because he is an atheist who objects to the phrase “under God.” The letter also addressed a banner promoting prayer in the student’s classroom. The student’s family contacted the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center as part of the organization’s national boycott of the Pledge of Allegiance, which raises awareness of how the “under God” language in the Pledge discriminates against atheists, humanists and other nontheists.
“School districts must respect the rights of all students, including atheist students who do not believe that this nation is ‘under God,’” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.
In response to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center’s letter, the school district has stated that the student will be permitted to refrain from participating in the school’s daily Pledge exercise and that all school district faculty and staff will be informed that students may remain seated during the Pledge recitation for any reason. The student and his family will also receive an apology from the school district, and the banner promoting prayer will be removed.
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.