For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Washington, D.C., Nov. 18, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center received a response from the Two Rivers Public School District in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, concerning a violation of a student’s right to remain seated during the school’s daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
“We appreciate the school district’s prompt response to our letter and its willingness to rectify the situation and to adopt proactive measures to ensure such violations do not occur in the future. Students’ right to opt out of the Pledge exercise is well-established,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, in reference to the 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. “Students who give thought and consideration to the meaning of the Pledge should be respected by their teachers, not reprimanded,” she added.
On November 12, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to officials at the Two Rivers Public School district on behalf of an eleventh grade student who exercised his right to refrain from participating in the Pledge exercise. The student, who objects to the Pledge on several grounds including its “under God” language, had opted not to participate in the Pledge in previous years without facing negative consequences. However, this year his teacher verbally reprimanded him when he attempted to remain seated in a quiet and undisruptive manner. His teacher also insisted that he stand in the hallway during the Pledge exercise. When the administration was informed of this matter, it insisted that the teacher’s actions were an acceptable part of classroom procedure.
On November 18, in response to the legal center’s letter, the school district informed faculty and staff in the district that students have the right to remain seated during the Pledge and cannot be punished for exercising this right. The high school principal and the student’s teacher have also issued him an apology.
A copy of the letter sent by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center can be viewed here, and a copy of the school district’s response can be viewed here [link].
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.