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Let Students Sit Out the National Anthem, Humanist Group Tells Florida High School

For Immediate Release


Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105,

David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 120,

(Naples, Fla., Sept. 16, 2016)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center condemns the policy of Lely High School in Naples, Fla., which forces students to stand for the National Anthem at all school-sponsored sporting events.

According to WINK News earlier this week, Principal Ryan Nemeth announced that students who did not rise during the National Anthem would be removed from the stadium and their ticket prices would not be refunded. Today the American Humanist Association, Legal Director David Niose criticized the principal for violating students’ constitutional rights.

“This coercive policy discourages the critical thinking and thoughtful dissent that our public education system should be fostering in its students,” said Niose. “True patriotism is upholding the First Amendment right to free speech.”

Niose wrote to the principal after a student contacted the American Humanist Association through, its website to raise awareness about public school students’ right to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. Through the Boycott, the American Humanist Association has upheld the rights of students across the country who have been admonished or even punished by their schools for exercising their right to opt out of the Pledge. Through the Boycott, the American Humanist Association hopes to restore the Pledge of Allegiance to its pre-1954 wording, which did not contain the phrase “under God.”

The American Humanist Association’s letter can be viewed here.


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, 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 philosophy 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 for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

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