(The Daily Advertiser) – The American Humanist Association has criticized the Lafayette Parish School Board for refusing to change the district’s Pledge of Allegiance policy.
On Wednesday, the board voted to keep a district policy that requires students to stand for the pledge, even if they do not recite it because of religious beliefs.
The issue first came up in April, when the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the district, alleging that an Acadiana High teacher mistreated a student who refused to stand during the pledge.
“Students have a First Amendment right to refrain from participating in the Pledge of Allegiance exercise,” David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association, said in a news release. “The school district had the opportunity to reflect this settled law in its policy but instead chose to continue unjustly requiring students who object to the words ‘under God’ to stand for the Pledge.”
The board’s attorney, Bob Hammonds, noted that state and federal law recognizes sitting during the pledge as a form of freedom of speech. Some board members said that because of that precedent, the district policy cannot be enforced. However, a majority of the board agreed that it should remain in place.
During the meeting, board member Elroy Broussard said he would like to hear from the student who first raised the concerns. No one came forward during the meeting to speak on the student’s behalf.
Meanwhile, the American Humanist Association said it also is promoting a national boycott of the Pledge of Allegiance “to encourage students who object to the ‘under God’ wording of the Pledge to exercise their right to remain seated during its recitation.”