Bullied for Not Believing in God
Despite secularism and atheism being on the rise, some areligious students feel discriminated against—at times violently. Now teachers across the U.S. are creating Secular Safe Zones to “curtail anti-atheist bullying, discrimination, and social isolation.”
The Secular Safe Zone initiative is designed to create “safe, neutral places for students to talk about their doubts without fear of religious bullying.” That’s done by recruiting “allies” and training them to recognize and respond to anti-atheist bullying. The initiative is modeled off of Gay Alliance’s LGBT Safe Zone program, which was started several years ago, in that it allows mentors at schools to explicitly demarcate spaces where “students know that bullying won’t be tolerated.”
School faculty members who affiliate with the program never have to say a thing; they hang the yellow, green, pink, and blue emblem, and students come to them
While most of our campus is respectful, people are typically shocked to find out we are atheists. When we first formed the group I received death threats through email and also the typical ‘you’re going to hell’ rhetoric.
We’ve had our flyers torn down and defaced on a regular basis. Additionally, we’ve had Christians attend meetings to tell use we’re going to hell, we need Jesus, we’re seeking truth and they’re there to provide it, etc. We finally had to kick them out and almost had to call public safety because everyone was so uncomfortable. Additionally, almost all of our group members have faced harassment from family members, ‘friends,’ and others on a personal level.
Our administration put up a huge fuss when we started this group. They progressed to ignoring our requests for school wide announcements, calling President and Vice President out of class for discussions, refusing to answer our questions, and docking our teacher sponsors evaluation so low that she would lose pay. We also had almost 100 signs torn down with little to no administrative response, even after we requested it.
We get threats written on flyers and [are] generally harassed.