A Colorado Student Challenged Her High School’s Faith-Based Programs and Paid a Price For It July 11, 2016

A Colorado Student Challenged Her High School’s Faith-Based Programs and Paid a Price For It

I’ve posted before about the Delta County School District in Colorado, where a middle school gave away bibles to children, a decision that led to Satanic coloring books also being given away (much to the chagrin of local parents).

Anne Landman, who broke that story, now tells a much more heartbreaking one. It’s about a recent graduate of Delta High School, Cidney Fisk. Cidney was one of those intelligent, rebellious students who knew that the promotion of religion and irrationality in her school was illegal. She dared to do something about it — and for speaking up, she was kicked right in the GPA.


Cidney spoke out last October when her school brought in abstinence-only speaker Shelly Donahue, encouraging her friends to wear shirts with the messages “I prefer science,” “Real control is birth control,” and “I abstain from ideology” on the day of her talk. She also wrote about the event for the school paper, noting that every slide contained a Christian cross.

When another Christian speaker, Chad Williams, was invited to talk about drug abuse, Cidney asked him point-blank what his qualifications were, since his memoir was mostly about his conversion to Christianity. Afterwards, her teacher Mr. Miller “reprimanded Cidney for daring to ask the question.”

But here’s the real kicker. In April, her grade in Student Government plunged from 98 to 70. (Guess who her teacher was?)

Mr. Miller, her student government teacher had given her failing grades for three solid months without telling her, and had waited until right before spring break to post them to her record all at once.

She asked Mr. Miller why he suddenly started giving her Fs, and he told Cidney that “questioning authority” and “her attitude” were the reasons for the low grades he had given her in student government.

This was around the same that a local newspaper published a story about the problems in the District, quoted Cidney, and included her “atheist” label… so that may also have played a role in how she was treated.

Here’s the good news: Cidney graduated, she got some money from outside sources, and she’ll be attending a college in Denver this August. She’s only speaking out now because she’s done with high school and has nothing to lose anymore.

But it’s appalling that the adults who should have been encouraging her this whole time turned against her when she began challenging the faith-based programs at the school.

Just look at the advice Cidney offered other students in the district, according to Landman:

I asked Cidney what she would say to future students like her, who are sharp enough to see discrepancies, misdeeds and misguided priorities within the school district, and forthright enough to call them out on it.

“Keep it up,” she said. “It’s worth fighting for. But if you want scholarships, don’t voice your opinion at Delta High School, or say anything that goes against the grain.

That’s how you know this is a shitty school run by cowardly administrators. Instead of acknowledging their mistakes, they apparently went after the student who understood the law better than they did.

Read Landman’s entire article. And I hope every church/state separation group in the country finds room in their budget to give this young woman the scholarships she deserves. (For what it’s worth, the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers are collecting money to donate to Cidney’s college fund. If you’re inclined to give, just click here and specify that the donation is for that cause.)

(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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