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AMS and Gideon Group Literature Distribution

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PETITION AGAINST THE PRIVILEGING OF RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN THE AMES SCHOOL DISTRICT We, the undersigned parents and residents of the Ames Community School District, reject any attempt to privilege any religious group who seeks to distribute its literature to our students during school hours. Our petition was initiated after Ames Middle School administrators allowed one group, the Gideons International, to distribute literature to our students during school hours on Wednesday October 24, 2007. Although the Gideons were on city property adjacent to school property, our administrators conferred privilege to this group by: 1. Announcing twice, once by the homeroom teacher during daily announcements and once by a lunchroom official during lunch announcements, the date and time that such distributions would take place. 2. Allocating special time so that students could collect the literature from the Gideons. These are privileges that have not been accorded to any other religious group. Since the said literature distribution, our administrators have stated that they would not accord such privileges to any other religious group. By encouraging our students to come into contact with non-school personnel, our administrators also have put our children at risk. Such practices violate long-standing warnings against such contact with non-school personnel. We specifically urge our district administrators to enact a policy that prohibits 1) the public announcement during school hours of the time and date of literature distributions to our students; 2) the allocation of any special school time to collect such literature from distributors; 3) the distribution of any literature that aims to proselytize our students. We affirm that such measures are necessary to ensure that no religious group is privileged in a school district that is home to students of diverse religious and non-religious approaches to life.

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