Secular Coalition for America Responds to Rebuke of Humanists by ACLU Chapter
Calls for 'Safe Schools' Law for All Students and Acceptance of All Americans, Including LGBT and Nontheists
The Secular Coalition for America is disappointed in the rebuke of one of our member organizations, the American Humanist Association, as it offered its assistance to the Mississippi ACLU in the execution of a "second chance" prom on behalf of a gay student. This is the latest indication of how much work lay ahead for the secular community, and the SCA promises its supporters they will receive more e-mails, action alerts, and press releases on the issues they care about.
Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, said:
"When Constance McMillen said she would attend her high school prom with a female date, one fellow student said to her, 'Thanks for ruining my senior year.' There were also students who were supportive of Ms. McMillen. Sadly, the school board, rather doing the right thing and standing with Constance, chose to make their school a more hostile environment for gay students and cancel the prom rather than allow a gay student to attend.
"We were proud to see our valued member organization, the American Humanist Association, step up to join the Mississippi branch of the ACLU in offering its financial and logistical support for a second-chance prom that Ms. McMillen could attend with her date and with her schoolmates, free from harassment and discrimination. After the American Humanist Association took the ethical stand and offered $20,000 to pay for the prom, we were shocked that the Mississippi ACLU, of all organizations, refused the AHA's help, claiming that Mississippians would be 'trembling in fear' at the inclusion of a nontheist group. They have since apologized, explaining it was a mistake on the part of one staff member.
"The Secular Coalition for America has repeatedly lobbied the Obama administration for safe schools legislation that includes gay students as well as nonbelieving students. The behavior of this local school underscores the clear need for schools that are safe and welcoming environments for gay students and nonbelievers alike. More broadly, the notion that a civil liberties organization would themselves 'tremble' to associate with a positive, humanitarian group like the AHA, simply because they are nonbelievers, makes clear the necessity of the work of the Secular Coalition for America as it advocates for federal law that increases the visibility and respect of the nonreligious in American society.
"The Secular Coalition for America is proud and encouraged that its work has doubled as the Obama administration, unlike its predecessor, has been willing to consider the views of Secular Americans.That means the Secular Coalition for America has the happy task of advocating to two branches of government.
"We have lobbied assertively on the issue of safe school environments for students who consider themselves nontheist (or are the children of nontheist parents), who far too often face harassment, bullying, and discrimination for their lack of religious belief. But we also hope to achieve a school culture in which students of any or no faith, or any sexual orientation, can have an intellectually fulfilling and welcoming educational experience without theocratic restriction of their civil liberties.
"The Secular Coalition for America is glad that the Mississippi ACLU has apologized and is very proud of the clearly moral and compassionate actions of the American Humanist Association. This situation, however, demonstrates that far more work lay ahead of us to increase respect and influence of Secular Americans as well as the theocratic rejection of gay Americans.
"Every person signed up for our action alerts can expect more e-mails and communications from us, because the Secular Coalition for America has an even more clear obligation to speak out for justice without fear or trembling."
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