Should school students be forced to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance?
In the Bedford Area School District, students stand before classes to pledge allegiance to the American flag. Until recently, they were “required” to stand during the pledge even if they had religious or other objections to reciting it. Otherwise, they could be punished, or their parents could be notified.
That changed as of April 16, when the district’s solicitor told the school board, that a 1943 court ruling had made the requirement unconstitutional. Specifically, it was a violation of the first amendment right to freedom of religion and expression.
The board voted to update the students’ handbook of rights and responsibilities to change the policy.
Superintendent Dr. Allen Sell says neither he nor the board wanted to do that, but they had no choice.
“Our personal opinion is we’d like everyone to pledge the flag and if they have other religious or other reasons why they don’t, we’d like them to stand respectfully but we don’t have the authority to force them to,” Dr. Sell explained.
Dr. Sell says the district still teaches respect for the flag, the country, and those who fought for it.
Students will be asked to stand for the pledge, but can’t be forced to.