The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that schools cannot force students to say the Pledge of Allegiance or salute the flag, but a man in Cape Coral, Florida, is upset that a local school is notifying parents that students can opt out of the pledge.
Micah Brienen posted a picture of the opt-out form on Facebook on August 18 and wrote this comment: "My niece brought this home from school today...What is happening to our country?!?"
The opt-out form featured a handwritten reply by an unidentified person: "This is the dumbest thing I have ever read and I am so ashamed of this."
The fact-checking website Snopes.com notes that Florida state law says that public school students can be excused from the pledge if they have written consent from their parents (which is not required per the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in 1943):
This [form] is a response to a Florida law voted on by the Florida Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Scott. We are required to comply with the law. Florida Statute 1003.44 dictates to all school districts in Florida that, "each student shall be informed by a written notice published in the student handbook or a similar publication pursuant to s. 1006.07(2) that the student has the right not to participate in reciting the pledge."
Snopes.com adds that another part of Florida's law says: "Each student shall be informed by posting a notice in a conspicuous place that the student has the right not to participate in reciting the pledge. Upon written request by his or her parent, the student must be excused from reciting the pledge."
After Brienen's Facebook posting went viral with over 23,000 shares, he wrote in the comments section how he was upset that schools were informing students of their legal rights:
I would just like to clarify, I never once said nor do I believe a child should be forced to pledge to anything, I just personally feel it is respectful to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, even if you do so in silence.
I was shocked when I saw the waiver because it comes across as if schools are now promoting the opt out in some sense. Just because it's a law, doesn't make it right. Laws are passed all the time where people are unaware. My hope is that this post brings attention to people so that maybe the same policy to send out the waivers doesn't pass in another state.
Sadly, our American values and traditions are whittling away...What's next? No American flags in schools?? Will future Presidents (Republican or Democrat) be forced to quit saying "God Bless America" at the end of his/her speeches?
And for those few ignorants that believe wars are fought for the right to protest the pledge, I'd like to see those people go to a VFW or American Legion meeting and when the pledge is started, stand up and tell them that....good luck with that.
Brienen later wrote directly under that comment: "I have just been informed that The Pledge of Allegiance request form has been removed from the student handbook district-wide. They've torn it out of every handbook. Per an edict that came down from the district last night. We can make a difference! Let's save America together!!"
Sources: Micah Brienen/Facebook (2), Snopes.com / Photo credit: Bernardo Fuller/defenseimagery.mil via Wikimedia Commons