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Opinion

Opinion: The right to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance

“Indivisible with liberty and justice for all”  While settling back into routines at school, there’s a current debate circulating about sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance.  American students are first introduced to the pledge before they can properly spell out sentences to then be parroted every day until college. But we aren’t always taught about…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/miaguillen/" target="_self">Mia Guillen</a>

Mia Guillen

October 26, 2021

“Indivisible with liberty and justice for all” 

While settling back into routines at school, there’s a current debate circulating about sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance. 

American students are first introduced to the pledge before they can properly spell out sentences to then be parroted every day until college. But we aren’t always taught about its meaning or allotted space to form a connection to it. It is hypocritical to place this expectation on all students then hand out repercussions when we raise demands for what we’re saying.

In many schools across the country, the pledge is more prioritized than teaching an unfiltered and un-white washed curriculum. And that order of priorities conveys a loud message to students of any marginalized group. In reality, in all schools, there should be a higher emphasis on inclusion, diversity and unconditional respect than paying homage to symbols or flags.

Some students find it offensive to remain seated while others see it as a right to sit down. But really, choosing to sit down doesn’t mean we hate America or are these obstinate-minded people. If anything, we recognize the corruption of our current justice system and are peacefully choosing to stay seated.

Following a year of monumental political action, many high school students have an elevated political awareness compared to when at-home orders were first in place.  A year of Black Lives Matter being amplified, Swinging DACA updates and an attempted insurrection later, it’s been made crystal clear that “justice for all” is still just an illusion. The daily repetition of this line won’t make it more and more true — it remains a recycled idea we repeat. 

The backlash from staying seated has been mistranslated to a deep vendetta against the nation as a whole. There are arguments that it’s disrespectful to veterans but it must be reminded that even then, 8% of America’s homeless population is composed of veterans though they are 6% of the general population.

Additionally, BBC researched stark contrasts in the varying treatment towards veterans from different wars. Take Vietnam War veterans, for example, one veteran recalled “being spat on” upon returning from a misguided war while Iraq War veterans were honored in an official ceremony for Bellavia. This is despite both wars being generally unpopular.

Therefore, couldn’t it be concluded that the idea of justice isn’t that contemporary after all? Can’t it branch out to the equal treatment of our veterans?

In fact, in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), the Supreme Court ruled that students cannot face punishment from abstaining or be mandated to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

It may also be useful to point out that in the past, any form of peaceful protesting; kneeling, staying seated or marching has all faced the same magnitude of retaliation.

Regardless of the chosen facet to protest, it will always prompt counteraction. Republicans constantly preach their first amendment rights even when they blur the line with hate speech but are upset when we exercise our right to remain quietly seated. We aren’t looking to compromise, we can show what we stand for while staying seated.

It isn’t a game of entitlement when it’s about holding our justice system accountable and knowing as a nation, we are capable of better. Wanting the best for the country and every single person that adds to its vibrancy- isn’t that really the American way?

We could stand and orate a falsehood of unity or we can remain rooted in what we believe in. Despite some notions, it’s not falling for anything if we won’t stand for just anything. Until justice evolves from an empty promise to a tangible reality to proudly stand for, many American students will remain seated. 

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