India Landry is a 17-year-old senior at Windfern High School in Houston, TX. After learning about Colin Kaepernick’s “Take A Knee” protest beginning last year, India did some soul searching and realized she felt much the same way. She took to sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance in her classroom. She felt as though the phrase “liberty and justice for all” is a lie and decided to not stand for it until it becomes a fact. Her decision got her expelled.
When India first decided to exercise her First Amendment right, not much was made of it – she wasn’t disciplined by any teachers for not standing. She told her local station that she hadn’t stood for the pledge in approximately 200 school days. However, that changed on October 2. She was called into the principal’s office that morning when the pledge was recited.
Her assistant principal told her,
[She] was going to stand for the pledge like the other African-American in her class. This isn’t the NFL.
India didn’t budge and she was expelled. After handing down the punishment, she was told to call her mom or be escorted out by the police officers stationed at the school. Apparently, a police escort is needed when a 17-year-old girl is disobedient enough to sit during the pledge. Ridiculous.
We aren’t saying that treatment correlated with India’s race, but the comment regarding the “other African-American” certainly makes it seem as though someone isn’t a fan of the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s fine – not everyone has to support Black Lives Matter. However, it is part of your job as an educator to respect the civil rights of their students, even if they are minors. Barring them from getting an education at your institution because you don’t like their politics is beyond harmful. Not only to their education – but to their sense of self-worth.
Now India’s mother is suing the school board and the principal of the high school. According to the school board,
A student will not be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the Pledge. We will address this situation internally.
That’s code for “we know someone screwed the pooch.” The treatment of this student is reprehensible. Trying to force her to stand for the pledge by threatening her with expulsion is unconstituitional We know this because the Supreme Court ruled on it 74 years ago in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. If those responsible aren’t punished, they should, at the very least, be ordered additional training on being a decent human being. We hope India’s mother wins enough to money to pay for her college tuition, preferably at a law school where she can become a constitutional scholar and educate her former principal.
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