Hiya. My name is Ash...
I go to a high school  in the state of Georgia, and I am currently taking AP US History.
I do not say the pledge, and I do not stand.
I do not say it because I know America is not "under God" and I know there is not "liberty and justice for all."
I choose not to stand because I don't want to stand for a country, that I believe, does not stand for me.
I have not stood for the pledge since 8th grade, and I'm currently in 11th. I have never had any problems until now.
I have not stood in my APUSH class all year and my teacher recently just caught me sitting.
He told me to stand.
I said no.
As soon as the pledge was over, he took me out of the class and chewed me out. 
He said that as long as I'm in his class I must stand, that it is illegal to sit, and he was going to get me kicked out of his class.
Obviously, none of that was true. I'm still in the class.
I went to an administrator about the issue and he talked to my teacher. Nothing was done in my favor.
Every morning I must sit outside his classroom door in the hallway until the pledge is over.
I feel very discriminated against. I should not have to sit/stand outside his door. I know this is wrong of him to do and I am very unhappy with it.
This is our only AP teacher.
What should I do?
My mom told me to stand anyway, and my brother called me an idiot.
Don't tell me to just stand, because I'm not going to go against something I believe in just for some school.
Is there anything I could do?

Views: 616

Tags: atheism, georgia, god, high, pledge, problems, school, under

Comment by Ray R. on January 13, 2013 at 10:38am
The guy is a moron . How can he possibly , in any meaningfull way , teach AP US history , when he lacks even a basic understanding of our founding documents ? Why aren't your parents standing up for you ? If you were my daughter I would be raising all kinds of hell at that school . Wow .
Comment by Ed on January 13, 2013 at 11:32am

Ashley,

While "with liberty & justice for all"  remains an ideal and goal to constantly strive for I can respect your decision to remain silent. Your freedom to not participate in a pledge is one of the good things about our country. Forced patriotism is anything but allegiance to one's country. 

Stand your ground.

Comment by Strega on January 13, 2013 at 12:24pm

Every morning I must sit outside his classroom door in the hallway until the pledge is over. I feel very discriminated against. I should not have to sit/stand outside his door. I know this is wrong of him to do and I am very unhappy with it.

Yes it's wrong of him do do it.  But his intention is to make you unhappy.  Why give him that satisfaction?  You could sit outside in a yoga/meditation pose, so when you are to go back in, you look calm and tranquil. 

You could have a book with you and have your nose stuck in it.  You could have a pad and paper and write things on it about how atheism is mishandled in schools.

You could think up all the happy thoughts you might have, so that you are smiling broadly when you come in.  Never underestimate the power of a wide smile.  It can be a strong message.

You could imagine the teacher is doing you a kindness by allowing you not to even have to hear the ridiculous pledge - you have a few free minutes, what would you like to do in that time, that you can do in peace?

If it was me, and if I felt the point of principle was important to me (and you say it is to you), I would turn the 'eviction' into a positive event.  But most of all, I'd have a massive grin on my face when I came in.  Can you imagine how annoyed the teacher might be if you appeared to actually be enjoying the exclusion?

We cannot always affect what happens to us in life.  But we can certainly manage how we interact with it.  If you are going to make protests in your life, you are going to face consequences.  Instead of looking for an external solution, you are going to have to come up with management techniques.  You can choose not to be upset.  You can choose to smile.  You can choose quite a lot of things.  I agree with you, he is a prick.  Don't let him see that he can affect your feelings.  Smile or grin until your face aches.

Comment by onyango makagutu on January 13, 2013 at 12:38pm

turning the situation around would work in your favour all the time. I do it once in a while and the offending party get so incensed at how I have managed to keep a wide grin on my face whereas he felt I should be angry and possibly all tears and begging for help.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on January 13, 2013 at 1:37pm

The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that a student has a constitutional right not to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. It is unlawful for a student to be forced to participate, or otherwise singled out, rebuked, forced to stand, or be penalized in any way for not participating. Conversely it's illegal for students who participate in the pledge to be rewarded or favored over students who do not participate.

"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.
"We think the actions of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control."
- United States Supreme Court

If you are forced out of the classroom rather than allowed to sit quietly, you are being singled out, and that is discrimination so it's against the law. 

Is there anything I could do?

Yes. You could report the violation to the legal team at the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The FFRF encourages you to contact them by phone (608-256-8900) if the need is urgent. If this happens to you every day, I'd say that qualifies. 

The legal team at the FFRF mostly likely will write a letter to the teacher and the school administrators on your behalf. The service is free but consider joining the FFRF or at least stuffing a few dollars into their donation jar.

It's worth noting that even though you are in the right, you could be in for a long and difficult battle. Being called "stupid" might only be the beginning of the abuse you'll have to deal with; if your family and friends offer no support, it could be a lonely battle too. But in the long run, you may find a few people will respond to your courage with respect, particularly to courage shown in the face of adversity and discrimination. 

I've been through a similar situation myself. but this was in a Catholic school, and I was too young to know what else to do. Like you, I was outnumbered but it was through my admittedly childish resistance to 'Under God' as a sixth grader that I met someone who ended up being my closest friend for the next 32 years. If you do decide to go it alone, and you stick to your guns, bravo.  

Please let us know how this unfolds for you.

Comment by Ashley Johnson on January 13, 2013 at 4:31pm

I just checked my email, and I got so happy from all the support you guys are giving me. ^-^
It means a lot to know that there are at least some people who can support me, even online.

I forgot to mention, I did contact the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU).
They sent me a letter saying that will not undertake legal representation for me.
I never thought to contact the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I am going to be doing that as soon as I can get some dates together. I think it might be helpful to know exactly how long this has been going on.

Thanks guys. 

Comment by Dale Headley on January 13, 2013 at 5:22pm

Three cheers for you, Ashley.  You’re my heroine.  DO NOT STAND simply because your teacher or principal demand it.  No consequence would ever be as devastating as the loss of self respect you would suffer all your life if you allowed yourself to be intimidated by people who are your inferiors.

I taught school, from 5th to 8th grades, for 36 years.  I never once uttered the Pledge, for exactly the same reasons as you.  Unlike you, though, I had a responsibility to respect the rights of the others to do so; therefore, I stood silently out of respect for them, though I kept my eyes downcast.  Plus, as a teacher, I don’t believe I have any right or responsibility to interfere with the religious or political upbringing their ignorant parents inflict upon them.  Over the years, though, fewer and fewer of my students chose to recite the Pledge, until, eventually, NONE ever did.  What I'm saying, Ashley, is that you should hang in there as a role model for classmates who may be similarly conflicted.  Then again, maybe not; this is GEORGIA, after all.

It is not my place to suggest that you take further legal action; but, even in reactionary Georgia, school boards get a little worried when they are threatened with a lawsuit by civil rights groups.  I think Gallup’s Mirror has some great suggestions along this line.  The ACLU, is not a good choice, though, because they are only interested in BIG cases that bring them LOTS of publicity.  Of course, if you refused to sit outside the classroom and forced the principal to expel you or deny you graduation, the ACLU might be interested.  But I'm not encouraging you to do this, because I'm not the one who would have to suffer the consequences.  Whether or not you would be willing to do so is nobody's business but yours.

Bottom line: these people have NO RIGHT, either legally or morally, to make you sit outside the classroom for exercising your conscientious, constitutional right not to participate in their deluded rituals.  

Whatever you decide, there are many of us who are proud of your courage and determination.  These are attributes that will serve you well as you go through life.  GOOD LUCK!

Comment by kvnvk on January 13, 2013 at 5:22pm

Comment by Ashley Johnson on January 13, 2013 at 5:52pm

Dale, I loved your comment... so much.
You're so right.
I want to respect myself and my choices.
So, that's what I'm going to do.
I told my classmates that I am going to go in and sit down for the pledge, instead of staying out.
I asked them for support.
I guess we'll see how tomorrow goes.

Comment by James Cox on January 13, 2013 at 7:11pm

I have also not made the pledge since about the 6th grade. I noticed that from one reading, 'a government that demands my allegence, does not deserve it!' Your teacher demanding it of you is acting as an oppressive troll!  I know telling him so, will get you in more trouble, but telling him so with about 20 other kids and a letter to the Editor with student signatures describing  his troll like like attitude, might attract the right people to your side. Thankfully, I never was taken to task for my petty lack of conformity, but I also never appolized for it either.  

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