While North Carolina deals with unprecedented winter storms that have already caused a huge amount of problems (most notably the cancellation of the Duke vs. UNC basketball game), a group of high school students in the state are struggling with a different issue.
Teens of varying class levels at Pisgah High School in Waynesville, N.C., wanted to form a group for secular students. When they approached the school administration with the idea, however, assistant principal Connie Weeks responded that she was unable to find a faculty sponsor for the group. She also claimed that the group wouldn’t “fit in” with the rest of the clubs at the school.
Although the students were denied the opportunity to form their group at the local level, they do have support from national non-profit organizations. The Secular Student Alliance (SSA) exists in order to provide support for non-religious students, encouraging them to form communities at their local schools.
When the students discovered that they would not be allowed to form the group, they contacted the SSA. The organization, along with other groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has publicly voiced support for the students. Despite sending letters to the school district, neither the students nor the organization has heard any news regarding their ability or right to start the group.
SSA representative August E. Brunsman IV explained that the organization would consider taking legal action if the school district does not respond.
“We always attempt to resolve situations like this by amicably informing the administrators of the rights of their secular students,” Brunsman said, according to Raw Story. "However, in this case, the administrators were entirely unresponsive. We have reached out to our partners at the Freedom From Religion Foundation to get the aid of their legal team in making sure secular students at Pisgah High School don’t face unequal treatment and discrimination."
Cash Wilson, the father of one of the students attempting to found the group, also claimed that he stood by his child’s efforts.
“As both a parent and secular activist, I am inspired by the tenacity of these teenagers who didn’t cower in their corners but instead contacted their friends and advocates at the SSA," Wilson said. "A secular club is a welcome addition to any school, but especially a school here in the zealous mountains of North Carolina. It will help secular students no longer feel alone and ostracized. My full respect and admiration to the student activists, the fine folks at SSA, the FFRF legal team, and the North Carolina ACLU."
The North Carolina students have eerily similar counterparts across the pond, as a group of British students was recently blocked by its university from displaying an image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster at a school fair.