For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, email@example.com
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2014)—The American Humanist Association is pleased that officials at the Johnson County R-VII School District in Centerview, Missouri, have responded positively to a letter sent by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center on behalf of a high school student who was threatened by his teacher when he exercised his right to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance.
According to the letter sent to the school district on November 26, a senior at Crest Ridge High School was threatened by his teacher when he opted to sit quietly at his desk during the school’s daily Pledge recitation. His teacher informed him that if he did not stand for the Pledge, he would be sent to the office as punishment, despite his insistence that he had a right to refrain from participating in the Pledge. The student finally stood, against his principles, to avoid discipline. The letter informed the school district that numerous cases, including the 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, guarantee public school students the First Amendment right to nonparticipation in the Pledge of Allegiance. The letter also demanded that students and teachers in the district be informed that students may remain seated during the Pledge recitation, that teachers be advised that they cannot persuade students not to exercise their right to opt out of the Pledge and that no discipline should be directed at any students who exercise that right.
The school district has made written assurances to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center that all of these demands will be met and that no students will experience retaliation or punishment for refraining from participating in the Pledge in the future.
A copy of the letter from the Appignani Humanist Legal Center can be viewed here.
The American Humanist Association is promoting a national boycott of the Pledge of Allegiance educated Americans about the history of the phrase “under God,” which was added to the Pledge in 1954 during the McCarthy Era. The boycott also raises awareness of the ways in which that phrase discriminates against humanists, atheists, agnostics and other nontheists by marginalizing them as unpatriotic, second-class citizens. More information can be found at BoycottthePledge.com.
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.