The American Humanist Association has sent a letter to the public school system in Carlisle, Pennsylvania about an incident in which a school nurse allegedly refused to treat a student because she did not stand for the pledge of allegiance while in the nurse’s office.
The student in question, for personal reasons, does not wish to participate in the Pledge exercise in any manner. On Thursday, April 2, she happened to be at the school nurse’s office when the school’s Pledge of Allegiance exercise took place. The school nurse ordered everyone present to stand up, but the student remained seated as she typically does. She reports that subsequently, when it was her turn to be seen by the nurse, the nurse asked loudly, “Why didn’t you stand for the Pledge?” The student replied that the Pledge exercise is voluntary and that no explanation for opting out is needed. Shockingly, the nurse responded by ordering her out of the room, yelling, “Fine! Then leave! I have the right to not service you!”The student reports that she left the nurse’s office in tears and went to the administrative offices to call her mother. A secretary then led the student to an office, but at that time the same nurse appeared again, saying, “She isn’t calling a parent until I have a long conversation with her!” Still sobbing, the student said she only wanted to call her mother. At this point a school counselor arrived and took the student to his office, where the student remained for the first two class periods. Though he showed some sympathy, he also incorrectly instructed the student that she should stand in the hallway if she does not wish to stand for the Pledge exercise! The student
politely tried to explain that she is under no obligation to stand in the hallway as such, to which the counselor replied that it was “district policy,” apparently unaware that “district policy” does not trump federal law.
The AHA is demanding an apology from the school, but that doesn’t go nearly far enough. The nurse should be fired immediately and reported to the state nursing certification board for refusing to treat a patient without cause.