Two Houston-area high school students protesting the Pledge of Allegiance say their constitutional rights have been violated by their school districts – and they’re taking their protest to court.
India Landry and another student who is only being identified by her initials, M.O., say they have received especially harsh treatment from teachers and administrations because of their decision to sit during the pledge. They say they were shamed and punished for their protests.
New York Times reporter Niraj Chokshi says the students are represented by the same attorney, and both cases were filed in federal court. The schools involved are Klein Oak High School in Spring and Windfern High School in Houston.
Back in 1943, the Supreme Court affirmed students’ first amendment rights in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. The court ruled that a West Virginia school board could not enforce a requirement that students participate in the pledge.
The student identified as M.O. says she’s been harassed since she first began protesting. “[India Landry] says she’d done this more than 200 times, through six teachers, without incident,” Chokshi says. “But a few months ago, the principal actually expelled her for sitting through the pledge.”
The cases have been filed as the debate over NFL players protesting the national anthem continues to make headlines.
“Both students said they had initiated the protests because they felt that the country did not live up to the promise of the pledge, that there wasn’t liberty and justice for all,” Chokshi says.
Written by Jen Rice.