Can a kid say "no" to the pledge of allegiance?

I recently read a thread about the trouble of the additon / removal of the part “under god” and that got me thinking about the pledge of allegiance in general.

So my question is this:

Is everyone required to say the pledge of allegiance?

It is my understanding that a child is not required to recite the POA.

Your understanding is correct.

That´s what I expected, but I wanted to make sure. Thanks for clearing that up.

No child can be forced to recite the POA in a public school. Private schools can do pretty much whatever they want.

Specifically, it was in WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION v. BARNETTE, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). SCOTUS ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses could not be forced to pledge allegiance or salute the flag, as the requirement violated their religious freedom.

I think you all are right, but can someone maybe provide a cite?


Would you accept West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette, 319 US 624 (1943)? I seem to recall hearing someone mention it…

Ah, so they’re 1940’s style Supreme Court judgements.

Well, in my school you’re required to stnad for the Pledge, but you’re not required to say it.

Of course, this is true legally. But understand that the only reason there is a Supreme Court case deciding this is because the West Virginia Board of Education did require it, no exeptions allowed. It took a fight all the way to the Supreme Court to tell them they cannot constitutionally require students to recite the pledge.

Common practice and community standards, however, are not necessarily controlled by Supreme Court rulings.

I’m sure that in most major cities and other “enlightened” areas if a student chooses not to recite the pledge, then no one cares. But on the other hand, I am sure there are enough scools that still treat it like a requirement (even if they don’t say it is) and while they may not formally discipline a student who resists, they can still make their displeasure known in less official, more subtle ways. Even if a particular school did “require” the pledge to be said, it would take someone courageous enough to go against their teachers and fellow students to make a big deal of it.

IMHO, that is what makes the “under god” part so insidious. The government (in this case the teacher) is leading a pledge for the whole class that includes a religious oath. In essence, the government is supporting religion, which is supposedly not allowed under the constitution. State mottos and “in god we trust” on currency are not the same thing (IMHO). Even though I may personally think that those, as well, should not be allowed for the same reason, no one is pledging an allegiance to God by spending money or living in a State that includes a religious reference in it’s motto.

Texas law requires the US Pledge, the Texas Pledge (a completely UNinspiring piece of crud), and sixty seconds of silence.

However, students can opt out of the pledging. Yeah. A six year-old is going to assert his constitutional rights. “My mommy says I can’t say the pledge.” “My mommy says you’re going to Hell.” It’s wonderful when the legislature plays politics with little kids. :rolleyes:
HB 640, 78th Legislature (Regular):

78R2180 BDH-D

By: Bohac H.B. No. 640



relating to certain requirements at the beginning of each school
day in public schools.
SECTION 1. Section 25.901, Education Code, is amended to
read as follows:
OBSERVANCE OF ONE MINUTE OF SILENCE. (a) A public school student
has an absolute right to individually, voluntarily, and silently
pray or meditate in school in a manner that does not disrupt the
instructional or other activities of the school. Except as
provided by Subsection (b), a [A] person may not require,
encourage, or coerce a student to engage in or refrain from such
prayer or meditation during any school activity.
(b) The board of trustees of each school district shall
provide for the observance of one minute of silence at the beginning
of each school day at each school in the district. During that
one-minute period, each student may, as the student chooses,
reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity
that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student.
Each teacher or other school employee in charge of students during
that period shall ensure that each of those students remains seated
and silent and does not act in a manner that is likely to interfere
with or distract another student.
SECTION 2. Subchapter Z, Chapter 25, Education Code, is
amended by adding Section 25.902 to read as follows:
school district shall require students to recite the pledge of
allegiance to the United States flag following the observation of
one minute of silence under Section 25.901(b).
(b) On written request from a student’s parent or guardian,
a school district shall excuse the student from reciting the pledge
of allegiance.
SECTION 3. Section 25.082(b), Education Code, is repealed.
SECTION 4. This Act applies beginning with the 2003-2004
school year.
SECTION 5. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
Act takes effect September 1, 2003.

You may well have a case here. IANAL but it appears that you are still compelled to stand up (and remain silent if you choose) while everyone else recites the Pledge.

The fact of the matter is the recitation of the Pledge in your school incorporates the physical gesture everyone must stand. Going the extra step and actually saying the words is now incidental because you are compelled to stand up, regardless of your opinion about the Pledge.

To me the entire process of standing up (required) and reciting the Pledge (optional) is a single process. Your school is splitting hairs.

What will be the next step? Being required to stand up and placing your hand over your heart, but remaining silent? Your school is game-playing.

If you were my child, I would fight that you remain in the classroom, remain seated, and fully excercise your rights guaranteed by the Court.

Yes, and this decision was on the pre-McCarthy version of the Pledge, which did not include the words “under God”.

And what happens if the teacher refuses to lead the Pledge? Can the government insist that students who wish to recite the Pledge be given the opportunity? Can principals make teachers lead it?

Can you tell I was a rebellious teacher?

In my school, there were some teachers who would write you up for insubordination, or sometimes “disruptive behavior”, if you didn’t at least stand up and mouth the words. I think supreme court rulings don’t necessarily mean that’s what gets practiced, unless someone makes a lawsuit out of it.

Daikona: And those are the kind of teachers that get both them and the school sued for violating someone’s rights.

Zoe wrote

I had a teacher in junior high who led it and refused to inject the “under god” part. Of course I had no idea what pressures (or lack thereof) he was under from others.

Can someone clarify this? Is the pledge of allegiance is where the school class stands and says a prayer in front of the US flag. I have seen this on old US TV show reruns, from the 60’s and earlier, and always assumed it was a thing of the past. Has it changed much over time? Do all schools do it?

Sorry that is a bit of a hijack, but should be quick to answer.

It’s not a prayer. You stand, put your hand over your heart (or salute if you’re military), and recite. The words are:

As others noted, it was once changed to include the “under god” part (and something else too, I’ve forgotten), but that was before my time; I’m 39.

It’s said pretty regularly, enough so that any school child (and adult for that matter) would know the words. My son is in first grade, and they don’t say it every day, but do at assemblies and such, perhaps once every couple weeks. We say it at my son’s cub scouts as well.

Honestly it feels a bit weird, almost like a soft Nazi youth thing. But then, it’s not really much different from standing and holding your hand on your heart as you sing the national anthem at a ball game either.