Student Wins Lawsuit After Refusing To Recite Pledge Of Allegiance

A student wins a hefty lawsuit claiming she was harassed for not citing the Pledge Of Allegiance in school.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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pledge of allegiance

Students in most elementary schools across the nation are taught at an early age to stand up and put their right hand over their hearts as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance during morning announcements each day. In fact, public schools across America have recited the expression for nearly 130 years. But in growing fashion, more and more students are opting out of citing the country’s pledge. Recently, a girl won a hefty settlement from a lawsuit claiming that the student was harassed by a teacher for sitting out the Pledge of Allegiance. 

The female student is a graduate of the Klein Oak High School in Spring, Texas. In 2017, her family filed a lawsuit citing discrimination and harassment throughout her time at the high school for not participating in the Pledge of Allegiance due to her objection to the words, “Under God.” Citing religious reasons, she was represented by the civil rights organization American Atheists. The group announced on Tuesday that the student ended up winning the lawsuit, and reaping its benefits in the form of a $90,000 settlement.

The Klein school district previously attempted to get the case dismissed in 2018. However, a federal judge sided with the student and allowed the case to move forward in August of 2018. More than likely, the judge ignored the school’s pleas to drop the case in reference to a 1943 law that bars schools from forcing students to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance reciting. 

pledge of allegiance

A Supreme Court case made this decision back in 1943. During the ruling in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, courts mandated that a student could not be forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The ruling came about in a decision that was made based upon upholding that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects students from being forced to salute the American flag or recite the Pledge of Alliance in public schools. The United States supreme court voted in the landmark decision on a 6-3 vote.

The court case was settled recently after the defendant, one of the student’s 12th-grade sociology teachers agreed to settle before going to trial. According to the lawsuit, the teacher, Benjie Arnold, repeatedly harassed the student due to her refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. In one reported instance, Arnold singled out the student requiring her to write the pledge down. Furthermore, the suit claims that Arnold told the class that anyone who did not participate would be given zero’s. He even allegedly went as far as comparing her to a communist, a member of the Islamic faith seeking to impose Sharia law, and a person who condones pedophilia. 

pledge of allegiance

While students like this are protected under law from having to participate in Pledge of Allegiance salutes, not everyone agrees that they should be allowed to sit it out. Since the Pledge of Allegiance was created to show patriotism for America, many believe it should be mandatory. Backers of this belief say that it is a duty to be loyal, take pride, and defend the land of the free, and part of that means citing the Pledge of Allegiance. 

But supporters of the decision to continue the longstanding court ruling see things differently. Like the Texas student, some people feel that the Pledge of Allegiance goes against their religious beliefs. Some refuse to recite the pledge simply because they do not respect the country they live in. In 2018, a teacher caught national attention for her refusal to sight the pledge. Her issue wasn’t with the verbiage that regards religion. Instead, this teacher refused to do the salute because she believed the passage saying, “liberty and justice for all” did not fit the world she lives in.