A grade school in Sulphur, Okla., will no longer ostracize students by requiring them to take part in plays and songs with themes from the Christian religion.
A concerned parent of a second grader at Sulphur Elementary School contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation when her daughter's class sang a song in a play held Dec. 6 with references to "the reason for the season" in the "form of a baby boy." When the parent discussed the problem with the school's principal, the principal said no child had to participate in the play. Three students who chose not to participate were forced to do homework in the principal's office.
The parent tried to make headway with other officials affiliated with the school, but these officials expressed surprise and offense at the idea of the parent's atheism. Later in December, the concerned parent's second-grader was forced by her teacher to sit outside in the hallway when carolers came to the class because the student's "mom might get mad."
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel contacted Sulphur Public Schools Superintendent Gary Jones in a Jan. 9, 2013 letter to object to the performance of the religious song in a public school, and the mistreatment of the second grade child. Seidel encouraged the district to use secular winter-themed songs instead of divisive religious songs, objected to forcing parents to remove students from coercive and inappropriate religious activities, and called for the child's teacher to be disciplined for her unacceptable and juvenile behavior.
Jones responded with a Jan. 11 letter stating that principals and music teachers have been instructed to be more selective in choosing songs and told not to place any child in a situation in which they feel uncomfortable or ostracized.