AVON, Ind. Officials have dropped plans for a prayer at Avon High School’s graduation under the threat of a lawsuit.
District Superintendent Richard Helton said the invocation would not be included in the May 28 commencement ceremony at the school, which is about 10 miles west of Indianapolis, and that it would be removed from the printed program.
Student Laura McGinley sought legal assistance from the Indiana Civil Liberties Union to stop the invocation.
“I think it is inappropriate and unnecessary,” said McGinley, 18. “It’s really all about diversity. I was raised in a family to respect all beliefs, and the best way to do that is not to force it on other people.”
ICLU executive director Fran Quigley said the organization contacted officials and told them that the district could face a lawsuit over the issue of prayer at graduation.
Helton said the district cannot stop students or school officials from praying at graduation. Quigley said there would be no problem as long as there is no school-led prayer.
“If it is student-initiated ... there is no litigation,” Quigley said.
Some students said they wanted the invocation.
Kari Kieper, who is senior class president and co-editor of the student newspaper, said the invocation was included in the program as part of graduation, but was not sponsored by the school.
“It was going to be student-led and student-initiated,” Kieper said.
Megan Gainey, 16, said most seniors want the prayer.
“It should not be taken out because a few people oppose it,” she said.