For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, email@example.com
(Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 2015)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center has received a positive response from Durham Middle School in Lewisville, Texas, concerning a student who was reprimanded by her teacher for exercising her constitutional right to remain seating during the school’s daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
On January 26, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the school on behalf of the student, an eighth grader who wishes to refrain from participating in the Pledge exercise for religious and political reasons. On two occasions, when the student attempted to remain seated at her desk during the Pledge, her teacher yelled at her and ordered her to stand. The letter states that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) guarantees public school students the right to opt out of the Pledge exercise and that by persuading the student to do otherwise, her teacher is violating her rights. The letter demanded that the school inform students and teachers that students may remain seated for the Pledge, that teachers be advised that they should in no way attempt to persuade students to refrain from exercising their rights, and that no disciplinary or retaliatory measures should be directed at students who choose to opt out of the Pledge.
In response, on January 29, the school sent a letter to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center that made written assurances that “our staff will be advised not to intervene in a student’s choice not to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.”
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.