Indiana High School Student Fighting Graduation Prayer Tradition

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
April 13, 2010 12:00 am

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When 18-year-old Eric Workman was asked to vote on whether or not to have a student-led prayer at his high school graduation ceremony, it didn’t sit right.

On March 11, 2010, the ACLU of Indiana filed suit on Eric’s behalf challenging the constitutionality of Greenwood High School’s practice of having its seniors vote to have a graduation prayer. According to the lawsuit, students at the high school were asked to fill out a questionnaire on whether or not students wanted a prayer. When the majority of students checked the box for prayer, Eric contacted the ACLU of Indiana to prevent that from happening.

Eric, who happens to be the valedictorian of his class, does not believe that anyone should involuntarily be subjected to prayer and religious beliefs. The case, Workman v. Greenwood Community School Corporation, argues that both the prayer and process of allowing students to vote on whether or not to have a prayer violates the First Amendment.

“You can’t have a vote whether or not to violate somebody’s constitutional rights,” says ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk. “It just doesn’t work that way.”

As the valedictorian, Eric plans to attend and speak at his graduation ceremony, which is scheduled to take place May 28.

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