Liberty and Justice for All? California Student Suspended for Boycotting the Pledge of Allegiance

At this time last year, as students were returning to school after summer break, the American Humanist Association launched its Boycott the Pledge Campaign, encouraging students and adults to sit down during the Pledge of Allegiance until “under God” is removed. Over the course of the year, the campaign received more than one hundred letters written by students sharing their experiences as they sat down during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.

The 2015-2016 school year has already begun in many parts of the United States, and last week we received a letter from an anonymous student attending a high school in Beverly Hills, California (edited for grammar):

I was in class one day and, as usual, said the Pledge of Allegiance like everyone else. After school I came across a YouTube video about boycotting the Pledge. I was interested and visited the Don’t Say the Pledge website. The next day I went to school and attended an assembly; the staff person told everyone to stand up to say the Pledge, but I didn’t stand up. One of the teachers came up to me and told me to “stand up” and I refused. I was an easy target because I was right in the front row of the gym bleachers. The teacher asked me again to stand up; I refused and mentioned to her that I didn’t wanted to stand up because I wasn’t comfortable reciting the Pledge. The staff person then took me out of the gym and brought me to the principal’s office. I got suspended for two days for refusing to follow the orders of a school staff member. I had posted about my experience that day at school on my Facebook page to my friends, explained why I didn’t want to recite the Pledge, and posted a link to the site I got likes and comments on my post. During the days I was suspended, my friends and other classmates from school started posting that they had gotten a few others involved in not saying the Pledge. By the third day I came back to school and had people come up to me and tell me how brave I was to start a “boycott.” My friends had gotten other classmates involved by not reciting the Pledge, and I just couldn’t believe it.

The American Humanist Association applauds this student and countless others who bravely exercise their right to boycott the Pledge until “under God” is removed and the Pledge is restored to its original wording. If you are a public school student who has been disciplined, bullied, or harassed for exercising your right to sit out during the Pledge of Allegiance, contact the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center.