A member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and high school student, Cierra Fields, says that she was removed from class on Tuesday, February 28, after she refused to stand or say the Pledge of Allegiance.
She stated that after she decided that she would not participate, her teacher yelled at her and removed her from the classroom.
“After I said I was not going to participate, my teacher raised her voice and said she refused to educate ungodly and unpatriotic students. She was angry and told me that perhaps I needed to take an online course in lieu of the class,” said Fields.
“After I refused to pledge to the flag, my teacher removed me from class by taking me into the hallway in direct view of some of the students. My teacher questioned me and screamed at me about how her father missed a year of her life in Vietnam and how her husband was an Afghanistan war veteran,” Fields said.
“Not only has my family served in all branches of the military, they served for my right to not pledge and/or stand. I don’t stand or pledge because the flag is an idol and I consider pledging to an object idolatry. As a Native youth, I do not agree that there is liberty and justice for all people,” she continued.
“To tell me such a thing and bring into question my rights to take a stance is in direct violation of the First Amendment and West Virginia State School Board Vs. Barnette. Such behavior by a teacher also violates the Religious Freedom Act of 1978, as it questions my beliefs,” she said in regards to her refusal to stand or say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Gary Sparks, Fort Gibson principal, said that no one was removed from class. He also noted that he understands that a student has the right to not stand for the Pledge and those who do not want to participate can come to the principal’s office to wait until the Pledge is finished.
“We did not have any students removed from class for not standing. During third period, we always do the flag salute and the teacher just asked [Fields] why she didn’t want to. [The student] explained why she didn’t and asked if she could come down to the office, which she was allowed to do,” he said.
“Everyone has a right not to stand if they don’t want to. We have a couple of students who do that too; so they do that quietly while we do the flag salute and we just move on,” said Sparks.
“Everyone has their right to do what they need to do. That’s how America works.”
The Fields’ family has asked the school and the teacher for an apology.