The ACLU of Louisiana has learned that the Lafayette Parish School Board is considering changing its policy requiring students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. We urge the school board to respect the rights and beliefs of their students, and rescind the policy.
Since 1943, the law has been clear that students cannot be compelled either to stand for or to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In that year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, that students have the right to refuse to salute the flag. Students' free speech and expression rights were confirmed in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which upheld students' rights to engage in nondisruptive silent protests. Following these rulings, the U.S. Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, has ruled that students' rights extend to the refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. (Banks v. Board of Public Instruction of Dade County.)
School systems must abide by the law, support the legal rights of their students and staff, and teach students to respect the legal rights of all. A policy such as this one, which doesn’t comport with the established law, must be rescinded.