(Washington, D.C., November 27, 2017)— The American Humanist Association expressed disappointment today that the Supreme Court has denied its petition for certiorari in a case in which the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding a Texas school district’s practice of subjecting its students to prayers at school board meetings.
For nearly thirty years, the Birdville Independent School District’s school board has been inviting students as young as six to open its meetings with prayers and lead the pledges. Students are present at every meeting, and often mandatorily for school credit, to receive recognition for academic or extracurricular achievement, to perform for the Board, or to resolve disciplinary matters. Teachers, administrators, and other students from the district are commonly required to be present at the school board meetings and are asked to stand and join the prayers. School administers in their official capacities also actively endorse and participate in the student prayers.
“The Court's decision disregards the serious coercion students face when a prayer is recited in a school-controlled environment with teachers and administrators watching and participating,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "By denying the petition for certiorari, the Supreme Court is allowing this unfair and inappropriate practice to continue."
Shake Things Up by Sitting Out the Pledge of Allegiance