Teen Sues After Being Kicked Out Of School For Not Standing During Pledge Of Allegiance

“It goes against everything I believe in.”

First Amendment controversies seem to be multiplying by the day. From the white nationalist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the American Civil Liberties Union representing noted provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, to recent protests during the national anthem, the American right to express oneself is under fire — and many citizens aren’t even quite sure what rights the First Amendment affords them, according to a recent Annenberg survey. When the debate trickles down to schools, the rights of students become even more unclear.

“Outside of a school, the law of the First Amendment would be absolutely crystal-clear, and unfortunately, it’s murky in the school setting,” Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida, told The 74. “The problem is, there have been judges who are willing to look the other way on the First Amendment inside a school. Can a school legally deny you membership on a football team because they don’t like your speech? I doubt it, but I think there are some judges who would disagree with me.”

In the past few months, several students and athletes have been cautioned against taking a knee and following the lead of NFL players protesting during the anthem. Last month, a letter from a high school principal in Louisiana directing students to “stand in a respectful manner” during the anthem went viral, while two high school football players in Texas were stripped of their jerseys and kicked off the team immediately following their demonstration during the anthem.

Recently, a Texas teen filed a federal lawsuit against her high school after she was kicked out for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. According to the New York Daily News, India Landry sat out the pledge hundreds of times since her freshman year at Windfern High School in Houston, Texas, but the senior was only recently reprimanded because school officials have "been whipped into a frenzy” over NFL players protesting injustice and police violence during the national anthem. Though other students across the country have also joined in the protests, the 17-year-old said she didn’t stand “because it goes against everything I believe in.”

“I don’t think that the flag is what it says it’s for, for liberty and justice and all that,” Landry told Houston’s KHOU. “It’s not obviously what's going on in America today.”

Though the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that forcing students to stand for the pledge and anthem violates their constitutional rights, India said the principal, Martha Strother, threatened, “If your mom does not get here in five minutes, the police are coming.”

Given the recent spate of brutality and extrajudicial killings by police, India’s mother was worried about her daughter’s safety.

“I see what’s going on with the country,” India’s mother Kizzy Landry said. “I thought let me hurry up and get to my baby before something happens to her.”

India’s lawyer, Randall Kallinen, said the school had no cause to expel the teen. “Students cannot be instantly expelled except for being a danger,” he explained. “The only danger appeared to be that her sitting whipped principal Strother into a political frenzy.”

After the teen’s story made the press and her family filed a lawsuit against the Cypress Fairbanks ISD school district, the school walked back its expulsion decision. Nicole Ray, a district spokesperson said students “will not be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the pledge.”

India is scheduled to return to school this week. Despite the trouble it’s caused her, she said she will continue to sit out the pledge — and has every intention of going forward with the lawsuit.


For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via ICE / Flickr

The Connors family, two coupes from the United Kingdom, one with a three-month old baby and the other with twin two-year-olds, were on vacation in Canada when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned their holiday into a 12-plus day-long nightmare.

On October 3, the family was driving near the U.S.-Canada border in British Columbia when an animal veered into the road, forcing them to make an unexpected detour.

The family accidentally crossed into the United States where they were detained by ICE officials in what would become "the scariest experience of our lives," according to a complaint filed with the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.

Keep Reading Show less