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In Response to Mounting Violations, National Orgs Vow to Protect Atheist Students' Rights

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Younger Americans -- increasingly nonreligious and not shy about it -- are about to have new support in speaking out against intrusions of religion in their educational environment. The Secular Student Alliance, an organization devoted to empowering nonreligious students, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to promoting state-church separation and freethought, announced a joint initiative today to connect students with legal assistance when their rights are violated.

"No student should ever be subjected to religious discrimination from their school, but they don't always know where to turn for help," said Andrew Seidel, a staff attorney with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. "With today's partnership, we're telling students that when push comes to shove, we have their backs." 

A Second Religious High School Forms an SSA

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Have you heard of The Westminster Schools? It's “a Christian, independent day school for boys and girls which seeks to develop the whole person for college and for life through excellent education" based in Georgia.  Their school motto is "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

Well, as of this month, they also have a Secular Student Alliance on campus!

Westminster Schools SealHow did secular students at Westminster Schools convince the administrators to allow a group?  Student leaders Caroline Oelkers and Aaron Smith tailored their proposal to the school's climate:

Members of Tarrant County College - North East Campus Secular Student Alliance Brag It Up!

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SSA affiliates and members are doing awesome stuff on their campus all the time. We brag about their work here on our website through the Brag It Up series. If you or your affiliate group has done something awesome, Brag It Up!

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Tarrant County College North East - Secular Student Alliance was able to set up four local speakers for their meetings, and one for Darwin Day free of cost. They had speakers come talk about raising gender-conscious freethinkers, community building, misconceptions about non-believers and neuro-science. Their Darwin Day event featured the paleontologist in charge of a local Archosaur dig site. Over 100 students came for this speaker.

Secular Student Alliance 2013 Freethought Backbone Award Winner: Bobbie Kirkhart

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Bobbie KrikhartNo social movement we know of has made any real difference if it consisted of only one generation. The Secular Student Alliance works hard to connect activists of all generations with each other. 

Every year we take the time to recognize someone who has not only gone before us but has lived the kind of life we’d like to live ourselves.  In the form of the annual Freethought Backbone Award, the Secular Student Alliance recognizes an activist who has contributed to the movement in such a profound way that determination, courage, and intelligence merely begin to describe what they needed to reach their goals.  We use this award to recognize someone who has racked up some serious time working to advance the secular cause.  Past winners include Ellery Schempp, Michael Newdow, Larry Jones, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker, and Herb Silverman.

Our hearts are filled with joy as we announce that long-time atheist activist Bobbie Kirkhart will be the winner of the 2013 Freethought Backbone Award.  The award will be presented at the Columbus location of our Annual Conference on July 12-14th, 2013 at the Ohio State University.

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