Anti-Atheist Teacher Backs Away from Discrimination After SSA Intervenes
Several weeks ago, we received a letter from a high school teacher where secular students were trying to form an official club. The teacher disagreed with our organization's mission and expressed prejudices toward secular students, going so far as to call them “deviants” who did not deserve protection. For someone who works with students to express such views was extremely worrying, so we reached out to the school. We wanted to make sure that the secular students would be allowed to form a SSA club and be treated with the rights and respect they deserve.
We brought the situation to the school’s attention and explained why it was unacceptable. Pointing to the law, the moral landscape, and the bullying that secular students often face, we made it clear that discrimination against nontheistic students in school cannot be tolerated.
They agreed. The teacher backtracked and pledged never to discriminate against students for any reason. The administrators reaffirmed their commitment to diversity and the rights of all students to form clubs. They spoke with the teacher to ensure his understanding of the law and to emphasize the consequences should any evidence surface that he's not obeying it. They made it clear that his personal views would not interfere with how he treats students and that he needs to make sure every student does feel welcome in his classroom.
The students are preparing to get their Secular Student Alliance club up and running as soon as the school year starts, with the administration’s and the Secular Student Alliance's full support. With our eyes -- and the administration’s -- on the situation, teachers will be on their best behavior. Discrimination will not stand on our watch.
We join the students in celebrating the law being upheld without needing the involvement of the courts. While this situation turned out successfully, we must remain vigilant of these kinds of violations. This is why the Secular Student Alliance is so important: We will do everything within our power to make sure secular students are able to form safe and supportive communities.
This is a victory for everyone. Members of the school and community will have a secular club where they can be educated about secular values and what it’s like to be a nontheist. Administrators everywhere see that a national organization is standing up against discrimination. And most importantly, the students will have their safe and welcoming secular student group.