“This is not the NFL.” – An alleged quote from a secretary at Windfern High School in Houston, Texas, that expelled a 17 year old girl for refusing to stand up during the Pledge of Allegiance.
…And that’s what makes her expulsion a serious legal issue. The NFL is privately owned, and allowed to expel players for participating in a protest that the organization doesn’t agree with. Public schools, on the other hand, are public, and therefore, not allowed to expel students for legal protesting.
Two 17 year olds from Texas are suing their schools for punishing them for sitting down during the Pledge of Allegiance.
They have been protesting for over a year, but in recent months, the harassment and hostility they’ve faced from students, teachers, and administration, has become so intense that the students have been forced out of the public education they are entitled to.
One of these teenagers had to be homeschooled after a teacher compared her choice to sit during the Pledge to the actions of communists, pedophiles, and terrorists, and after the administration chose not to act against this, or the harassment she faced from her peers.
The other teen taking action against violations of her constitutional rights, India Landry, was expelled from her school, and was told she was not welcome back until she was willing to stand for the pledge. Although the school has since allowed her to return, the fact that this incident happened at all is appalling.
The right to sit out during the Pledge has been protected by the courts since 1943, after the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. It seems absurd that school districts have acted as if this case never happened, and that students do not have the right to protest. It seems clear that the president’s disregard for constitutional protections of US citizens has led to others following in his path.
Yes. It’s horrifying. It may also point to another problem in the quality of public education in Texas that these teachers and school administrators do not know the legal history around these rights.