Many students don’t stand up for pledge

Whether it’s out of apathy or objection, many students are exercising their right to sit during the pledge or simply stand without saying anything at all

Every school day starts with the Pledge of Allegiance, but not for everybody.
According to a total of 16 first period classes at Hillsborough High School, approximately 57 percent of students stand up and only 19 percent appear to say the pledge, with classes varying from everyone standing up to no one doing it.

In Hillsborough County Public Schools, the policy states that a student may only be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance when a parent or legal guardian files a written request with the school principal. But that is not what happens daily in the classrooms or the hallways of Hillsborough.

“A whole lot of students don’t understand the significance of it [the pledge], and it’s probably on the part of the adults because we don’t emphasize the importance,” Assistant Principal Quasar Givens said. “Unfortunately, I wouldn’t put the teacher in the position of enforcing the policy because they already have to deal with a classroom full of students and it would only make it worse, but I believe we have to appeal to the students’ common sense, and just out of respect all we’re asking students to do is stand.”

Either as a protest or just laziness, many students argue that it is their right to remain seated, and there is no need to stand up. “Sometimes I don’t stand up and I don’t think anyone should be forced to. If someone feels like they shouldn’t stand up then just let them be, everyone has the right and I don’t think it’s disrespectful or anything,” sophomore Fatima Al-Ziyad said.

In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects a student’s right to not engage in certain speech in the West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette case, so the practice is not strictly enforced at Hillsborough schools. However, many people still believe it is courteous to show respect and participate in the pledge.

“It represents the country united in a way,” senior Anthony Corso said. “I don’t think it is a problem to sit down for whatever reason, but it’s more of a courtesy to stand up.”

A proposal to change HCPS policy regarding the pledge was introduced on Sept. 9, but it hasn’t been approved yet. The policy change says a student that refrains from reciting the Pledge of allegiance to the flag must remain seated/standing quietly while the pledge is recited by others.