More Kids Punished, Harassed for Refusing to Say the Pledge

In response to the American Humanist Association’s Don’t Say the Pledge campaign, they have received hundreds of complaints from students who have been harassed and berated by teachers and punished by the schools for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. A couple of the new ones:

Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to officials at the School District of Lee County in Fort Myers, Florida, regarding a constitutional violation that took place earlier this morning regarding a student who was punished for exercising his constitutional right to remain seated during the school’s daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

According to the letter, a senior at Cypress Lake High School, who identifies as an atheist and objects to the Pledge exercise on several grounds including its “under God” language, attempted to remain seated at his desk in a quiet and undisruptive manner during the recitation of the Pledge. However, his teacher berated him, accused him of being unpatriotic, and punished him with in-school suspension. When the student reported the matter to the school administration, he was still given the choice of participating in the Pledge exercise or being punished.

And in California:

Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to school officials at the San Jacinto Unified School District in San Jacinto, California, on behalf of the family of a student at Monte Vista Middle School. The letter concerns a seventh grade student who has been coerced by his teacher into standing for the Pledge of Allegiance when he attempted to exercise his right to remain seated during the Pledge. The letter also addresses a banner promoting prayer displayed in the student’s classroom.

According to the letter, both the teacher’s refusal to allow the student to opt out of the daily Pledge recitation and the presence of a banner promoting prayer are violations of the Establishment Clause. When the student, an atheist who objects to the phrase “under God,” attempted to sit quietly at his desk in an undisruptive manner during the Pledge exercise, his teacher berated him and erroneously informed him that the law required him to stand. The teacher then demanded that the student explain his reason for remaining seated, asking, “Do you hate America?” and making other statements meant to pressure him into standing.

This just reflects how completely ignorant many teachers and school administrators are on the law. It really shouldn’t be that difficult. The Supreme Court ruled on this more than 70 years ago, for crying out loud. And any teacher who harasses or berates a student for making that choice should, at the very least, be reprimanded and suspended.

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  • John Pieret

    his teacher berated him and erroneously informed him that the law required him to stand

    [Facepalm] Care to cite that law, numbnuts?

    The teacher then demanded that the student explain his reason for remaining seated, asking, “Do you hate America?”

    You know who would be the first to stand and loudly recite the pledge? A foreign terrorist. Empty rituals are just that and have nothing to do with who loves or hates America. And the best reason to love America is the freedoms it guarantees its citizens that these assholes are trampling on.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The Supreme Court ruled on this more than 70 years ago, for crying out loud.

    I wonder if the meme is circulating that, like Roe v. Wade, the time and Court have arrived to reverse that ruling?

  • tbp1

    You know who would be the first to stand and loudly recite the pledge? A foreign terrorist.

    This.

    Remember the era of competing loyalty oaths so wickedly satirized in Catch 22?

    Of course actual spies would be the first to take any loyalty oath, and to cast doubts on the patriotism of anyone who recognized it for the hollow gesture it is. Why that’s so hard to grasp is, well, hard to grasp.

  • Erp

    The court already reversed itself once on the issue. The original decision ( Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 1940) was that it was legal for the government to force school children to say the pledge. They reversed themselves a handful of years later (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943) when they saw the results.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    They reversed themselves a handful of years later (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943) when they saw the results.

    Maybe it’s time to compile all these incidents into a class action suit and show them some more results.

  • whheydt

    Re: traitors and oaths…

    In the early 1950s, at a Maritime Service Training Center, the officer in charge of administering loyalty oaths was accused of being a Communist (he wasn’t). So…not only would a terrorist/traitor/what-have-you be first in line to take such oaths, but one has to consider the possibility that he would be the one making others take them.

    Makes you wonder about the teachers in question, doesn’t it?

  • Artor

    Not to quote a tired, overworked phrase, but; Fascism. Flag. Bible. The pledge has it all, wrapped in a neat little bundle. Fuck that noise.

  • doublereed

    The Pledge isn’t about weeding out terrorists or traitors. It’s about conformity and authoritarianism. They don’t care if you actually care. They care that you respect authority and obey the rules.

  • flatlander100

    Be interesting to know which colleges or universities conferred Ed. degrees on the teachers and administrators involved. I suspect the general topic of “Civil Liberties in the Classroom” is not much taught.

  • John Pieret

    doublereed:

    The Pledge isn’t about weeding out terrorists or traitors. It’s about conformity and authoritarianism. They don’t care if you actually care. They care that you respect authority and obey the rules.

    Sure, but what was being pointed out was that the question “Do you hate America?” was nonsensical and merely an attempt to intimidate the student.

  • dugglebogey

    Seems like a good way to weed out shitty teachers who don’t research their facts.

  • magistramarla

    flatlander100

    I earned my teaching certificate in the mid 70s. Teacher’s Ed classes were a big joke then and from what I’ve heard from young teachers, they still are.

    IMO, a class called “Civil Liberties in the classroom” would be awesome.

  • Scott Simmons

    My son told me that one of his teachers chastised him for refusing to stand during the pledge and threatened to call his parents. He’s continued to remain seated and the issue hasn’t been raised again, nor have I heard from that teacher to date. I guess that’s good, although I must admit I was looking forward to that conversation.

    (We live in Texas. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.)

  • doublereed

    I’m pretty I sure I remember some of my teachers sitting during the pledge. It got the impression that they thought it was a waste of time.