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Atheist Org Recruits Allies in Schools to Prevent Religious Bullying

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New 'Secular Safe Zone' Program to Defend Atheist Students

With bullying an increasing concern in the nation, one overlooked minority group is about to get help: atheist students.  The Secular Student Alliance announced today that it is kicking off the 2013 school year by launching a new program called the Secular Safe Zone.  Modeled after the LGBT safe zone programs, the project trains mentors in student communities to create safe, neutral places for students to talk about their doubts without fear of religious bullying. 
 
"There’s no question that atheism is on the rise among America’s youth, but secular students still face an uphill battle for acceptance," said Secular Student Alliance spokesman Jesse Galef.  "We’re calling on supportive role models nationwide to stand up for these students.  Even just one teacher defending you against bullying can make all the difference in the world."

The Secular Safe Zone program is designed to create knowledgeable and skilled allies across the nation who can recognize and respond to anti-atheist bullying.  Volunteers are given training on subjects including identifying and understanding secular students, speaking up against discrimination, and dealing with resistance from the community.  After completing the training, allies receive signs to designate their classroom or office as a Secular Safe Zone.

A Thank You From Our Summer Interns

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I’m Kate Donovan, one of the the Secular Student Alliance's summer interns! It’s nearly time for school to start again, and as our campus affiliates are gearing up for an action-packed year, our summer internships are wrapping up. With my own time interning at the SSA coming to a close, I wanted to tell you more about what the summer meant to us.

SSA's 2013 summer interns Liz Dudek, Kate Donovan, and Tori Rehr

As our communications intern this summer, I got to write press releases, learned how to reach out to journalists and bloggers, and improved our use of social media. If you’ve interacted with the Secular Student Alliance on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve been talking to me!

Tori Rehr, our summer resource development intern, led the charge to overhaul our online affiliate support, making sure that our students have the information they need. Now, students have centralized materials to help them with things like problem-solving, leadership transitions, and capitalizing on advertising momentum. When students have questions about anything from preventing burnout to dealing with hostile communities, she’s made it easy to find the answers. The list is extensive; you can check out the work she did here!

Announcing the Rapid Response Organizer Campaign!

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Hello everyone!

The Secular Student Alliance is proud to announce that we are launching a campaign to fund a Rapid Response Organizer!

Daniel Koster, whose group stood up against bible distributions at their high school, knows how helpful a Rapid Response Organizer will be.

The Rapid Response Organizer (RRO) will be a full-time position with the SSA.  This person will monitor news reports and our own networks to react as early as possible to situations where secular students need help standing up for their rights or where secular students are doing especially amazing work.  As quickly as possible, the RRO will then travel anywhere in the country to either mitigate the negative situations or amplify the positive ones!

Facebook messages, emails, and phone calls are great, but there is a power that comes with being face-to-face with someone and able to gather additional information firsthand.  The RRO will allow us to offer a totally new level of support to brave secular students.

When public schools refuse to let an SSA group form, or a secular student works to end a school-sponsored religious ceremony, we'll be able to educate the students directly on the law, and also the legal resources within the secular movement.  The RRO will also work to educate the school and school community about the law and also the value of embracing secular students as part of their community.

Members of Secular Student Alliance at Central College Brag It Up!

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SSA affiliates and members are doing awesome stuff on their campus all the time.  We brag about their work here on our website through the Brag It Up series.  If you or your affiliate group has done something awesome, Brag It Up!

I am the president of Central College’s SSA affiliate group, and we brought JT Eberhard to campus this February. We booked him to speak on ‘Reason as a Moral Obligation’, because we agreed that this would be a topic that would fit with the climate of our campus. You see, our campus is very religious, and since JT is what people would call a ‘firebrand’ we decided that this topic area would be a good option for our school. JT wanted this to be as financially easy for our group as possible, so he told us we could pick the cheapest flight that we could find (so long as it wasn’t Delta) and let him crash on one of our couches so we could save money. This was very helpful for our group and allowed us to get the funds to get him here. 

The group advisor and I drove him to Pella from the airport, and once he saw us he gave each of us a huge bear hug. The day of his talk, the group all ate supper with him in the school cafeteria, and he kept us all entertained with stories and magic tricks. He was a very good magician, and he did several tricks for us throughout the meal.

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