Lenoir City High School in Tennessee apparently has a real First Amendment problem on its hands. It has refused to allow the school newspaper to print an article by the editor of that paper that dealt with anti-atheist bigotry and the school’s pervasive Christian atmosphere.
Krystal Myers is an honors student, captain of the swim team and editor of her high school newspaper.
She’s also an atheist in a predominantly Christian student body.
In a recent editorial that Myers, 18, intended for the Lenoir City High School newspaper entitled “No Rights: The Life of an Atheist,” she questioned her treatment by the majority.
“Why does atheism have such a bad reputation? Why do we not have the same rights as Christians?” she wrote.
Myers’ editorial also accused school administrators, teachers and coaches of violating the constitution by promoting “pro-Christian” beliefs during school-sponsored events…
Schools Director Wayne Miller said it was the decision of the school authorities not to allow publication of Myers’ editorial because of the potential for disruption in the school.
“We do have the right to control the content of the school paper if we feel it is in the best interest of the students,” he said.
Sounds like a dishonest pretext to me. Do they have any actual evidence of such disruption? Or by “disruption” do they just mean that it might cause people to disagree with one another and disagree with the school? I hope the ACLU gets involved here. A subpoena for all the communications between administrators discussing the situation might reveal a great deal.
As to the constitutional violations alleged by Myers, Miller said he is comfortable the school system is on the right side of the law. Prayers at athletic events are student-led. School board meetings do begin with a prayer, but there are usually no students present, he said.
According to a 1999 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, Cleveland School Board vs. Coles, school boards are not allowed to conduct prayer services during board meetings, Haynes said.
Myers gives other examples in Lenoir City of what she believes are constitutional violations, including T-shirts worn by a teacher that depict the crucifix and a “Quote of the day” that teachers write on the boards in the classroom.
The quotes often include Bible verses, she said.
Lenoir, you have a problem. And you just made that problem bigger. The comments on the article are pretty much exactly what you would expect. This is my favorite:
It’s pretty simple. No matter what I believe, if it is not allowed, it is not allowed. Why should atheists get more privileges than any other? If we can’t have prayer in schools, and allow them to practice what they want, why should any other have the privilege? This is the problem with atheists today. They don’t want anything pushed on them, yet they try to push their non-belief on others. It’s the same as reverse racism.
Mind-boggling. You can read the student’s full submission here.
Update: Unfortunately, it looks like the young lady has no interest in raising a stink over it. In fact, she thinks the school is in the right despite the censorship. That’s too bad. Students need to stand up for their rights more often.