Oklahoma School District To Require Students To Stand During National Anthem: Is It Constitutional?

An Oklahoma school district will require all students to stand during the national anthem, although the district’s policy is vague on what punishments, if any, will be meted out to those who don’t obey.

As KATV-TV (Little Rock) reports, Stuart, Oklahoma (population: just under 200), considers itself an intensely patriotic town. When you drive into the little town, about 100 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, the first thing you see is the town’s war memorial. Superintendent Tracy Blasengame said that the people of the community respect fallen soldiers, and it’s that sense of honor that compelled the school to adopt the policy.

Issued this week, the new policy says that students, athletes, and spectators are “expected” to stand during the national anthem, and that “no gestures of demonstration or protest” are allowed.

“Stuart Public School respects the right of students and spectators to have their political and social beliefs, certainly, and to express those beliefs at appropriate times. With that in mind, all students, student-athletes and spectators are expected to stand during the playing of the National Anthem at all school events, sporting or non-sporting, without any gestures of demonstration or protest.”

However, the policy is vague on what would happen to anyone who violates the policy.

“Any student violation of the policy concerning the national anthem would be handled on a case-by-case basis, taking into account context and circumstances. Discipline would be measured out according to the severity of the event, taking into consideration the Religion, age, physical and mental state of individuals and any other limiting factor patrons, students and parents of Stuart Public School may have.”

Stuart OKlahoma will require students to stand for the national anthem, although how they'll be punished isn't clear.

When pressed for details by a reporter, Blasingame simply reiterated the doctrine that students are “expected” to stand for the anthem. He declined to give further details.

“When our policy states that our student athletes, students and patrons are expected to stand, that is simply it. We have expectations of our students, whether that is making good grades, being polite, courteous, and respectful, or being good citizens.”

In fact, Stuart officials may find that they’re not able to mete out any punishment at all for anyone who doesn’t stand for the national anthem. That’s because, according to Brady Henderson of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), doing so would be a clear violation of the First Amendment.

“Stuart Public Schools’ new policy is blatantly unconstitutional and unenforceable… This school district’s school’s leaders are in desperate need of a First Amendment lesson, one that they are likely to receive swiftly in the event they actually attempt to enforce this unlawful policy.”

In fact, schools that have attempted to punish students for failing to stand when expected have quickly found themselves in hot water. As the Inquisitr reported earlier this month, a Texas school expelled a student for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, but after an intense public backlash, the student was allowed to return to class.

Back in Stuart, no one has opposed the new national anthem rules, so far.

[Featured Image by Jupiterimages/Thinkstock]