After Initially Rejecting It, North Carolina High School Now Says It’ll Allow Atheist Club to Form

Just a few days ago, we learned that administrators at Pisgah High School in Canton, North Carolina were refusing to allow the formation of an atheist club run by 15-year-old Kalei Wilson (pronounced KAY-lee):

Kalei Wilson

After first meeting with Assistant Principal Connie Weeks, the student was told that Weeks needed to “look into” the formation of the group. At subsequent meetings, the student was told by Weeks that they should just join a different club, because the secular club didn’t “fit in” to the community at Pisgah High School, and there were no faculty sponsors available — despite the Equal Access Act stating that if a sponsor couldn’t be found, the administration is required to assign one.

Both the Secular Student Alliance and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (along with the ACLU of North Carolina) wrote letters to school officials over the course of several months with hardly a response. A lawsuit was likely imminent since the school already allows a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group without a problem.

But the administrators have now changed their minds, saying they’ll allow the atheist club to form. (I’m sure the media outcry had nothing to do with it…)

According to a post on the group’s Facebook page:

Hallelujah!

According to one source, “the attorney for the school district has indicated that if [Kalei] make[s] a formal request to start the SSA group with Principal [Greg] Bailey, the group should be allowed to form.”

Kalei will be meeting with the Bailey early this week to begin (again) the process of forming the group.

I just spoke with her over the phone and she told me that nearly a dozen students have already expressed interest in joining the club — which is already more than some of the other clubs at the school.

Kalei has lost a few friends over the whole debacle, but a few of her Christian friends have also stood up for her, going on Facebook to defend her club and activism. (One excellent blog post from a fellow student can be read here.)

Assuming everything goes smoothly from here on out, Kalei hopes to get in as many group meetings as possible before the end of the school year and show the community that “we’re good people, not bad people.”

For what it’s worth, no faculty member has stepped up yet to volunteer as the group’s sponsor.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

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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