I grew up in Orange County and graduated from a local high school nine years ago. This story comes very close to my own experiences. I thank you for your article and applaud Emily Long with all my heart for standing up to this violation of the law and narrow-minded bigotry.
As a Jew, I too have my own beliefs that I feel strongly about. But the one thing I've always felt most deeply is that everyone has a right to believe whatever they want to as long as they don't push it on others or condemn what others believe. And all of those beliefs should be shared in the home, temple or church. Not in school.
I can't tell you how many times I've been told I'm going to hell if I don't accept Jesus Christ as my savior. And all of the talk from Republicans about wanting prayer in school sends chills right down my spine.
High school is a very impressionable and pressure-filled time. When teachers, who are role models, share their religious beliefs--whether before class, during class or after class--they make a strong impression and sway students' minds. I saw it happen in my own experience. And if you believe something else, you're left out, chastised or condemned. It can be psychologically damaging unless you're lucky enough to have high self-esteem and strong family/friend support.