North Carolina High School Agrees to Allow Secular Student Group
At Pisgah High School, student Kalei Wilson attempted to form a Secular Student Alliance affiliate group. Kalei, like so many other secular students, went to her school administrators to talk about building a secular community at her school.
|Kalei Wilson, the Pisgah High School Student trying to form a secular group at her school.|
“I want a place where people who don’t have a religion can come and meet people with the same thoughts,” Kalei Wilson said. “This is a way to tell the school that not everybody believes in the same thing.”
Under the Equal Access Act, if schools allow any non-curricular group, they are required to allow all to form. Because Pisgah High School already has over 30 student groups, including a religious one, they are legally required to allow a secular group to from. But Pisgah High School’s administration refused to do so. Pisgah High School’s administration is not alone in breaking the law by blocking the formation of a secular student group; the SSA received 28 complaints similar to Kalei’s in 2013.
In response to the administration’s resistance, the SSA sent out a letter explaining to the Pisgah High School administration that they were breaking the law by blocking Kalei’s efforts to build a group. Weeks went by, and the administration still had not responded.
So, the SSA contacted their partners at the Freedom From Religion Foundation to get in touch with the school district directly, hoping additional pressure would show the school administration that Kalei had a right to form a group. The SSA also made these letters and Kalei’s story public, ensuring that the whole country would witness the struggles many secular students face when administrations violate their rights.
Today the SSA is excited to announce that the attorney for the Haywood County Schools, the school district containing Pisgah High School, has stated that Kalei will be able to make a formal request to start her SSA affiliate group and build this secular community for the students at Pisgah High School.
“We are thrilled to see this victory for Kalei and all of the students at Pisgah High School!” said August E. Brunsman IV, Executive Director for the Secular Student Alliance. “We fight everyday to ensure student’s rights aren’t infringed upon, and are pleased with this response from Haywood County Schools.”
The Secular Student Alliance plans to keep a close watch on Pisgah High School to ensure Kalei and her fellow students can build her community without any further violations of their rights. We are certain the administration will do the right thing and follow the law when it comes to students building communities.
We received word today that, after meeting with the principal of Pisgah High School, Kalei was granted permission to form the group! Two teachers volunteered unsolicited to be sponsors, and they are expected to have their first meeting this week. Congratulations Kalei!
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