A Florida man says his niece was sent home from her school with a form allowing parents to opt their kids out of saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and his social media post about the form — and his outrage — has gone viral on social media, KSTU (Salt Lake City) is reporting.
Last Thursday, Micah Brienen’s niece came home from Killearn Lakes Elementary School in Tallahassee, Florida, with the form.
“I understand my rights as a parent and I request that my child, noted above, be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. This request includes standing and placing his/her right hand over his/her heart.”
Outraged, Brienen posted a photo of the form on Facebook, along with his thoughts on the matter (“What is happening to our country?!?”), and contact information for Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons.
Micah’s sister-in-law — the girl’s mother — sent the form back to her daughter’s school with some editorializing of her own, which you can see in red ink in the photo above.
“This is the dumbest thing I have ever read and I am so ashamed of this.”
Unfortunately for Micah and his niece’s mother, they’re both about 16 years too late with their outrage: Florida has allowed students to opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance since 2000.
According to a 2006 First Amendment Center report, of the 53 U.S. states and territories (which is to say, the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Unites State Virgin Islands), 43 of them — at the time — required public schools to administer the Pledge of Allegiance daily. One state — Wisconsin — even required private schools to administer the Pledge. Most states, Florida included, allow students to opt out, with most of those states requiring written permission of a parent or guardian. It bears noting that this information is recent as of 2006, and laws may have changed since then.
Nationwide, there do not appear to be any statistics as to how many kids have parents who opt them out of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Parents (and kids) have several reasons for opting out of the Pledge. In some cases, it’s religious: some religious groups, including the Amish (who view reciting the Pledge or saluting the flag as idolatry, according to Amish Religious Freedom), and Jehovah’s Witnesses, forbid their members from reciting the Pledge.
“Saluting the flag, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, singing the National Anthem, folding the flag and disposing of it in a sacred way, is thought to be a form of idolatry. Symbols for salvation other than Jehovah are not allowed in the JW faith.”
It is also some non-religious parents who have had trouble with the Pledge of Allegiance: more than one atheist family has objected to the phrase “under God” in the pledge and has brought suit against their children’s school over their kids being compelled to recite it.
In other cases, parents or students simply view reciting the Pledge as giving tacit approval to the United States government — something they are reluctant to do. Such was the case with New Hampshire teenager Fatima Smart, as reported by the Inquisitr back in March, 2015. Fatima declined to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with her 8th-grade classmates for just that reason.
“I don’t like our government at all. I think they are making bad decisions, and I didn’t stand. I don’t like pretending to believe in something I don’t believe in to please others … They have their rights, and I have mine.”
Fatima claimed that her teacher “bullied” her and made an example of her in front of the other students. Her parents demanded an apology.
Are you outraged that Florida allows students to opt out of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance?
[Image via Shutterstock/tobkatrina]