Florida’s Orange County Public Schools officials are requiring students to obtain parental permission if they want to kneel during the national anthem at football games, reports The Huffington Post.
The decision comes after some students decided to show solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and oppression in the U.S.
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Via The HuffPo:
District officials told WSBTV that they were following state law regarding the pledge of allegiance, a strict and controversial statute that requires unadulterated participation in patriotic gestures.
The statute reads, in part:
Each district school board may adopt rules to require, in all of the schools of the district, programs of a patriotic nature to encourage greater respect for the government of the United States and its national anthem and flag … When the national anthem is played, students and all civilians shall stand at attention, men removing the headdress, except when such headdress is worn for religious purposes … Upon written request by his or her parent, the student must be excused from reciting the [pledge of allegiance], including standing and placing the right hand over his or her heart. When the pledge is given, unexcused students must show full respect to the flag by standing at attention
Some school districts are getting tough with students. In Collier County, Lely High School principal Ryan Nemeth ordered students to stand during the anthem and threatened to send protesters home without refunds, according to the Naples News:
“You will show absolutely no disrespect. You will stand. You will stay quiet. If you don’t, you’re going to be sent home and you’re not going to have a refund of your ticket price,” Nemeth said during a televised announcement to the school on Friday.
“It’s not only important that you show yourself some respect, but how about those athletes that are out there on the court or the field, or how about the folks who are singing or playing the national anthem. Let me say that one more time and be crystal clear: When that anthem is being played, you are to stand and you are to be quiet. What you do during that time is your own business. If you want to sing a song in your head, if you want to meditate, I really don’t care. What I do care is that you stand and stay quiet,” Nemeth said.
The HuffPo notes that “forcing students to stand at all may be unconstitutional. In fact, previous decisions in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals have found that the portion of Florida law requiring students to ‘stand at attention’ violated the First Amendment.“
It would be great if school officials and lawmakers around the country exerted the same passion when people disrespect the President of the United States. Sound off in comments.