A 17-year-old Houston student has been expelled from high school after she refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
At Windfern High School, India Landry and other students are required to stand during the pledge, even if they don’t recite it, reports The Washington Post.
However, for the past several months, India has refused to stand for the pledge, “because it goes against everything I believe in,” she explained.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, she said that “police brutality” and that fact that President Donald Trump is in office motivates her to do it.
“I never told her to do this,” her mom said. “I’m proud of her for standing up to what she believes in. She said she hopes it just brings awareness of what is going on.”
The school did nothing about India’s protest until Oct. 2, when she was expelled by school officials, who told her “this isn’t the NFL.”
A few days later, India’s mother, Kizzy Landry, filed a lawsuit, naming Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District and Principal Martha Strother as defendants.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified exemplary and punitive damages, alleges that administrators at Windfern had been “whipped into a frenzy by the publicity of African-American National Football League players kneeling for the national anthem.”
The NFL protest movement has been growing since 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested racial injustice by refusing to stand during the traditional playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The movement dramatically increased following Trump’s comments at a campaign rally in Alabama on Sept. 22, when he called for NFL owners to fire players who knelt during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police violence.
In India’s case, civil rights lawyer Randall Kallinen said that students “cannot be instantly expelled except for being a danger,” adding that “the only danger appeared to be that her sitting whipped Principal Strother into a political frenzy.”
Strother suggested that instead of refusing to stand for the pledge, India should “write about justice and African Americans being killed.”
The school’s assistant principal told India that she “was going to stand for the pledge like the other African-American in her class.”
“I was actually terrified, I see what’s going on with the country,” India’s mother told the Daily News. “That scared the hell out of me. I thought let me hurry up and get to my baby before something happens to her.”
In a statement to KHOU, the school district said: “A student will not be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the Pledge. We will address this situation internally.”
In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that students couldn’t be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
India, a senior, was allowed to return to the school on Oct. 6, and said she plans to continue sitting during the Pledge.
Some Washington Post readers supported India’s protest.
“Why is a pledge of allegiance even a thing?” asked one reader. “It’s like some artifact of history, an empty ritual.”
Another chimed in: “Want me to be proud of America? Stop invading countries that haven’t attacked us or our allies. Give Flint (and other municipalities with similar problems) clean water. Do something about the horrific amount of gun violence.”
Sources: New York Daily News, The Washington Post (2), KHOU / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Obtained by New York Daily News, Max Pixel