Humanist Attorneys Protect Student’s Right to Not Say the Pledge
Sarah Henry, (202) 238-9088, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C., May 14, 2019) – Yesterday, Monica Miller, senior counsel at the American Humanist Association (AHA), warned officials at the Manchester Local School District against their ongoing unconstitutional behavior ostracizing a student who objects to standing for and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The warning explains that the first-year student, at Manchester High School does not wish to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance in any manner. He sat out of the Pledge, but reported to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center of the AHA that his homeroom teacher required him to stand. The student correctly pointed out his constitutional right to not participate, even citing the relevant Supreme Court precedent that supports his position, but both the teacher and the school administration failed to defend the student’s rights.
Manchester High School’s proposed solution is to remove the student to the principal’s office every day during the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Forced removal of a student from the learning environment is not just humiliating, it is unacceptable,” notes Miller. “A student’s right to opt out of any Pledge exercise is long-settled Supreme Court precedent, and federal courts have consistently held that students are fully empowered to utilize their First Amendment right to remain seated and silent during the Pledge of Allegiance.”
The American Humanist Association demands that all students and teachers in the Manchester Local School District be reminded that students are well within their rights to remain seated, that teachers be instructed as to the constitutional rights of students to opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance, and that no disciplinary measures of any kind will be directed toward any student choosing not to participate in the Pledge exercise.
View the letter to Manchester Local School District officials here.
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 worldview 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 and the Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.