After fighting to have her secular club recognized at her North Carolina high school with the help of national atheist organizations, teenager Kalei Wilson has pulled out of founding the school club, citing "numerous threats" and "verbal attacks" as the reason for her decision.
Kalei Wilson, a 15-year-old student at Pisgah High School in Canton, N.C., had previously contacted several national atheist organizations after allegedly being refused by school administrators to start a chapter of the Secular Student Alliance on campus. After she was reportedly told by the school's administration that her club was "not a good fit," she contacted the Secular Student Alliance, Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, who in turn wrote letters to the school's district, encouraging them to allow Wilson to start her club.
Although the school eventually allowed Wilson to start her club, her family released a statement saying that their daughter would not be starting the SSA chapter, as she had been bullied on campus for her efforts. Kalei's father, Cash Wilson, had previously told the Freedom From Religion Foundation that the Pisgah High School principal had said he would look into bullying threats.
"It saddens us to report that due to the numerous threats and the verbal attacks on Kalei along with the vindictive which-hunt (sic) to hurt the reputations of affiliated local groups and our own family , Kalei will not be continuing with the group," the statement released by the family read, according to their GoFundMe donation page.
The family went on to say that they had contacted GoFundMe, a donation drive site they had used to support Kalei, and have confirmed that all funds will be returned to donors in three to five days.
"Your love and support are priceless and we apologize in letting you down. It was our single goal to support Kalei in her efforts to start the much needed SSA club," the family stated. "However, we never expected our family and friends to be sought out and demonized. Please know that we recognize the importance of the club but we can not justify our involvement with the risk of our families safety and well being."
Kalei had previously said that she wanted to start the secular club on campus so atheist students would have a communal place to gather and share their ideas."It's not fair to people like me who don't have a place to go to meet like-minded thinkers," Wilson told the New York Daily News previously. "We just wanted to prove that we can be good without God."
"We are not bad people," Kalei said. "We deserve to be treated the same as everyone else."