Illinois Teacher Allegedly Pulled Student Out of His Chair When He Stayed Seated During the Pledge

It’s the start of another school year which means the start of more teachers and administrators who don’t understand that no one has to stand or say the Pledge of Allegiance.

At Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Illinois, sophomore Shermar Cooper remained seated during the ritual, only to have his teacher, Ms. Alfano, freak out.

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The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter today to the Superintendent and Principal explaining the details of the incidents:

After the first incident, the student’s mother informed the teacher that students could not be required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. However, when Cooper again exercised his right to opt out of the Pledge, his teacher reportedly attempted to pull him out of his chair to force him to stand. School administrators also accused him of being disrespectful to US military.

That argument, which has also been made against NFL star Colin Kaepernick, still makes no sense. Exercising your First Amendment rights seems like a perfectly fine way to show your respect to the soldiers who fought for them. Blind obedience is hardly an act of real patriotism.

The AHA is demanding that the District remind everyone of their legal rights when it comes to the Pledge and promise not to discipline students who don’t join in. They also want Alfano to apologize to Cooper.

“Students who stand up for their rights by sitting down for the Pledge of Allegiance deserve our respect,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “They consider the meaning of the Pledge rather than reciting it automatically, demonstrating the critical thinking that schools should encourage.”

“Students have long had the right to opt out of participation in the Pledge of Allegiance,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association, in reference to the US Supreme Court’s 1943 ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. “Public schools must uphold students’ freedom of speech, which includes sitting during the Pledge.”

All the adults involved here should just suck it up and admit their ignorance. But if they don’t, I’ll post updates soon.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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