Derek Giardina is reportedly facing opposition since he omitted “Under God” from his reading of the Pledge of Allegiance. However, the teenager, who attends Merrill F. West High School in Tracy, California, feels he’s done nothing wrong.
According to CBS Local, Giardina’s speech and debate class are responsible for reading morning announcements and saying the Pledge over the loud speaker each day. The task is typically mundane. However, Giardina decided to do things a bit differently. The 17-year-old student, who is reportedly agnostic, decided to omit the “Under God” phrase from the oath. Needless to say, school officials definitely weren’t pleased with his actions. In addition to receiving detention, he’s now failing the class, reports Pantheos.
Giardana recently shared his sentiments of the pledge with CBS-13. He also revealed why he prefers to omit the phrase when reciting the pledge. He also discussed the repercussions he’s faced since the incident.
“Personally I wouldn’t say the pledge at all, because I’m not necessarily very patriotic, and I’m not religious. I think I have a low C now, from doing other speeches, but it is a very large point value,” he said of his grade in the class. “There’s something disciplinary happening because of my religious beliefs.”
Although Giardana feels the repercussions unnecessary, the school district is supporting the teacher, Shauna Baker, and her actions.
“Baker had told me, if we don’t say the pledge properly, we’ll get suspended and kicked out of the class,” Giardana said.
Sam Strube, a district spokesman for the Tracy Unified School District released a statement in reference to the school’s decisions following Giardina’s actions. The school district made it clear that it respects the religious beliefs of students. However, the district feels it should be recited the “traditional way” when read publicly. He also revealed students have the option to do alternative assignments in lieu of the pledge.
“A public forum where you’re going to represent the school is not a place where you can voice a controversial issue and force that on other people,” he said. “Students are given that choice, and so if you’re representing the school and you’re reading the announcements to the class, you can be graded on how well you read the announcements.”
However, Giardana still feels the ordeal is “unnecessary.”
“I don’t want someone else to have to fight for this; this should be unnecessary,” he said.
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