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Do You Have to Recite the Pledge? 6th Grader in Florida Arrested For Not Doing So

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Do You Have to Recite the Pledge? 6th Grader in Florida Arrested For Not Doing So

A class of second grade students recite the pledge of allegiance in Rockport Elementary School.

From: National Archives at College Park [Public domain]

A class of second grade students recite the pledge of allegiance in Rockport Elementary School. From: National Archives at College Park [Public domain]

National Archives at College Park [Public domain]

A class of second grade students recite the pledge of allegiance in Rockport Elementary School. From: National Archives at College Park [Public domain]

National Archives at College Park [Public domain]

National Archives at College Park [Public domain]

A class of second grade students recite the pledge of allegiance in Rockport Elementary School. From: National Archives at College Park [Public domain]

Stacy Vazquez, Journalist

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This month in Lakeland, Florida, a sixth grade student was arrested for not participating in the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Sound familiar? Probably. It is an American tradition to recite the Pledge everyday in school. Almost everyone recites it, but what happens if you don’t?

A young boy had to face consequences for not doing so. According to the New York times, the student was arrested after having a dispute with his substitute teacher. When the substitute noticed that he wasn’t doing the pledge, she asked him why. The boy told her that he believes the pledge is racist. The substitute asked him why he didn’t go to another place if he didn’t like it here, to which he responded with “they brought me here.”

The substitute decided to call administration because she felt that she didn’t want to continue dealing with him anymore. A school resource officer arrested the young, African American boy.

The boy’s mother believes that the situation should have been handled differently and that he shouldn’t have been arrested.

Polk County Public Schools, on the other hand, said that there was no intention in arresting the student and only arrested him because he was disruptive and didn’t follow directions. The American Civil Liberties Union have stated that they believe that not reciting the pledge falls under their first amendment rights, and that students do not lose those rights when they’re in school.

Brian Haas, state attorney, has made an attempt to close the case, but it wasn’t possible. The boy’s mother didn’t accept an offer to close the case if the boy agreed to complete a so-called diversion program. The boy’s family believes that he shouldn’t be punished for expressing his first amendment rights.

So, do you have to recite the pledge?

No, you don’t. According to CNN, it falls under your freedom of speech. It has actually been that way since 1943 due to the West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette case. A Jehovah’s Witness, Walter Barnette sued West Virginia for enacting a rule forcing the students to salute the flag. Barnette won the case, and it was decided that you do not have to recite the pledge.

Freshman Rachel Ledezma says, “I personally think it’s ridiculous that someone was arrested for not doing the Pledge. The fact that he called the Pledge racist is no reason enough to arrest someone. Freedom of speech is part of the U.S. Constitution so, the arrest was completely anti-constitutional. Everyone has the right to express themselves and if they don’t want to do the Pledge of Allegiance it’s in their right not to.”

When asked if students deserve to get arrested for not reciting the Pledge, Sophomore Diana Aguilar stated, “No, they shouldn’t get arrested. It’s part of our freedom of speech, and it can also be considered a peaceful protest. As long as he was minding his business and not making a scene (being rude, loud, or obnoxious) then he has all the right to not do the Pledge of Allegiance. Some people in America don’t participate in the Pledge of Allegiance because they don’t believe that everyone on this country is free. They have all the right to stay seated and not receive repercussions.”

A verdict hasn’t been decided over the case in Florida but, in the end, it is up to you whether you participate in the Pledge or not.

About the Writer
Stacy Vazquez, Journalist

Position: Academics/Journalist/Team Smarties

Grade: 9th grade

Hobbies: Dance, Read, Editing, and Sleep (Krush & GSA Member)

Favorite Foods: Ice...

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Do You Have to Recite the Pledge? 6th Grader in Florida Arrested For Not Doing So