(Wilmington, DE, Sept. 24, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center received written assurances from officials at the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District that students who exercise their right to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance will not be disciplined. The letter from the school district in Wilmington, Delaware, comes after the Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a warning on September 17 on behalf of a twelfth grade student who was threatened with punishment by his teacher after he opted out of the daily Pledge exercise.
The student, who attends Delcastle Technical High School, was held after class by his teacher when he sat during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher also informed him that he would be punished if he chose to sit for the Pledge in the future. The teacher also singled him out in front of his classmates in the hallway and called his behavior “disrespectful,” making the student feel humiliated.
“That students have the right to refrain from participating in the Pledge of Allegiance is well-settled in the courts,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, in reference to the 1943 U.S. Supreme Court Case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, which gives students the right to nonparticipation in the Pledge.
Miller continued, “Some students object to the Pledge for personal, political or religious reasons, such as the inclusion of the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge. But regardless of the reason, students must be permitted to opt out of the Pledge as a matter of freedom of speech and conscience.”
According to a letter from the school district’s attorneys, the student will be allowed to remain seated during the Pledge exercise without repercussions. The district also states that “no discipline has been, or will be, administered for opting out of the Pledge.”
More information on the American Humanist Association’s boycott of the Pledge of Allegiance is available 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 nontheistic 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.