A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Enidris Siurano-Rodriguez

Occupying the Pledge of Allegiance

By José I. Ortiz

Salvador Allende, Chile’s former president and reformer, once said, “To be young and not revolutionary is a contradiction, even biologically.”

I’ve done my fair share of protesting. Back home in Puerto Rico, I’ve participated in marches, sit-ins and the 62-day shut down of my college campus protesting the government’s draconian spending cuts on education. Coming to New York for law school just as the Occupy Wall Street protests began helped calm my homesickness. This is why the story that I read recently about a Maryland high school student’s protest caught my attention.

Ever since she was in the seventh grade, 15 year old Enidris Siurano-Rodríguez of Montgomery County has chosen to sit quietly each morning while her classmates have stood and pledged allegiance to the flag. Earlier this year, one teacher told her that she had to stand. When she refused, she was taken to the principal’s office where she was asked (not too nicely) to explain why she refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, according to an article in a major Puerto Rican newspaper. Ms. Siurano-Rodríguez – Puerto Rican born but living in Maryland since she was three years old – is protesting what she believes to be an “antidemocratic” political situation between the Caribbean island and the United States.

While it’s unclear whether there have been actual disciplinary measures taken against her by school officials, Ms. Siurano-Rodríguez has been told that she might be separated from the class during the Pledge of Allegiance if she refuses to participate. Can a public school do this? Are school officials legally permitted to hinder a student from quietly protesting just because it might be deemed unpatriotic? LASIS investigates.

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