After Putting His Initials on a Lawsuit Against a Preaching Teacher, a Young Atheist Outs Himself and Explains Why

Last week, we learned about a lawsuit filed by the American Humanist Association against Fayette High School’s district in Missouri.

The problem was pretty clear: Gwen Pope, a math teacher at the school, led Christian devotional prayers in her classroom every Friday morning, prayers that were announced over the loudspeaker.

Gwen Pope

In addition to all that, Pope’s husband Michael would attend the meetings and Pope was quoted as telling her math students that “God will punish them if they are not good.”

The lawsuit’s lead plaintiff was a student at the school, G.H.:

Now, that student — a junior this year — has outed himself. His name is Gavin Hunt and he explains in Humanist Network News why he decided to step into the spotlight:

… Aside from this, I’m completely satisfied with the education I received from Fayette High School. I appreciate the teachers there, and I owe nothing but thanks to them for everything that they’ve done for me, but that does not change the fact that their current practices are illegal.

Initially, I had planned on remaining anonymous but soon realized that the best way to encourage other students to challenge constitutional violations was to come forward with my identity. I wouldn’t recommend that all plaintiffs reveal their identity for safety and privacy reasons, but it was the right decision for me. The staff and students found out that I was suing the school and I was soon subjected to criticism, and threats. There’s nothing you can do to avoid this type of discriminatory behavior, though there are ways that you can cope with it. You must realize that what you are doing is for a good cause, and that you aren’t the only one in this type of situation. I’m asking those that are going through this, to step forward and consider contacting the American Humanist Association.

Gavin’s was already doing something incredibly brave by putting his initials on the lawsuit. But coming out like this is pretty damn inspirational. Good for him — he did the right thing and it also happened to be the courageous thing. Now, the school should follow suit, drop the fight, admit that what Pope did was wrong, and do whatever it takes to make sure it never happens again.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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