A New York school district is under fire after an atheist student said her high school teacher threatened to discipline her if she refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
The unnamed Southside High School sophomore objects to saying the words “under God,” and approached the American Humanist Association, a secular activist group, for help.
The Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the organization’s legal arm, sent a letter to the Elmira City School District Tuesday, calling the teacher’s alleged actions “a serious constitutional violation.”
“She has attempted to simply sit at her desk during the exercise in an undisruptive manner,” the letter said. “When she has done this, however, she has been instructed by her teacher to stand, at the risk of disciplinary or retaliatory measures if she refuses to do so.”
It continued, “Moreover, in front of her classmates, this student has been told by her teacher that failure to stand for the pledge is disrespectful to America and to military personnel in particular, and thus her patriotism and national loyalty have been publicly called into question.”
The letter noted that past legal decisions, including the Supreme Court’s 1943 ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, have granted students the right to decline participation in the recitation. The Appignani Humanist Legal Center asked that the district promptly address the situation.
The Elmira City School District did not respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze.
(H/T: Huffington Post)