Protecting Constitutional Rights but do we set an example for Free Speech?

A while back there was an article written about a student in a public who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and, consequently, was forcibly removed from his seat to make stand.  Later, the same student was “berated” and “yelled at” for his decision.  This article has allowed me to reflect on my professional practices.  Obviously,  school districts must respond in a manner supporting students and their constitutional rights.

Regardless of personal beliefs, public schools should support students to make their own personal decisions.  As staff we must demonstrate a willingness and understanding those opinions which may differ from our own.  The purpose of schools should be to support students making educated decisions rather than create rules, policies, or procedures asking students to conform to a culture, lifestyle, etc.

The rationale for my choice to publish my thoughts on this issues does not come from the article, student constitutional rights, school district response, or anything associated with the article at all.  This day in age, Facebook and other Social Media streams tend to be a choice for many to get their news and to engage in discussion.  In a Facebook response to the article, a member shared they believed the school should develop policy for students to stand for the Pledge, National Anthem, among others.  Their belief, one would assume, would be centered around “respect” for the county and those who have protected the many freedoms we have.  In a replying post, a person points out (correctly I might add) that students freedom of speech is protected constitutionally.  As I stated earlier, social media provides a platform for this type of discussion however, the conversation which follows is the basis of my post.

A person, who in obvious disagreement with the original thought, ends the post with a classic one-liner: “Why don’t you try reading the Constitution.”  Going back to my original thought of supporting people of various opinions.  Too many times, we take unnecessary steps to “cut-down” or “belittle” others who have different thoughts and/or opinions.  We as adults, have an obligation to teach our children to respectfully disagree with others without unnecessary negativity.  Remember, the in the article, we initially were defending the students right to practice their own beliefs.  Lets also remember to do the same when discussion on social media and other platforms.

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