Native American Student Gets Lower Grade for Sitting During Pledge of Allegiance

kim kardashian

A Native American high school student in Northern California who received a lower grade for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance has got the school district involved.

Leilani Thomas, a 14-year-old belonging to the Elem Indian Colony, has been sitting during the pledge since the second grade.

“Most of my teachers, they respected my decision and my right and belief,” she told CNN. “So they never said anything about it. I think the pledge is a lie to me and it’s a lie to my people.”

During the first week of September, the freshman did not stand for the flag salute as per usual. However, her homeroom teacher at Lower Lake High school confronted Thomas and another Native American about it.

“She told me that I was being disrespectful and I was pretty mad cause, like, she was being disrespectful to me also in saying I was making bad choices and I don’t have the choice to sit down during the pledge,” Thomas said to ABC News.

When she argued back, her teacher said they only have “child’s rights,” according to CNN.

“I was dumbfounded,” Thomas told the news outlet. “She pretty much told us that she could control us. She was forcing everyone in the class to stand up.”

A few days later, Thomas and the other student noticed a drop in their participation grades. Konocti Unified School District Superintendent Donna Becnel confirmed Thomas’ participation score went from a 5 to a 3.

When the students asked their teacher for an explanation, she explained their grades were lowered because of their refusal to stand for the Pledge.

In addition, Thomas recorded her teacher saying,

“Here’s the deal with that. If you really, really, really, really, really, have an argument and feel so strongly about that, then I need to see it written out, like your argument in an essay form, like, why. Why, because here’s the real thing: Those people, they’re not alive anymore, your ancestors.”

As a result, Thomas’ father, Gary Thomas, who taught his daughter the history of their people, was outraged.

“I blew up, to be perfectly honest,” he admitted to CNN. “They think that we are not here, that we don’t exist. She should be a lot more sensitive about the district and the place she is teaching in, the children that she is teaching.”

Becnel agreed that the teacher violated the students’ 1st Amendment rights.

Becnel said to CNN,

“The issue is that she suffered a consequence because she didn’t stand. That is the part about free speech that was not supposed to happen. It is a violation of the student’s free speech right to require any student to stand as long as it is not disrupting the learning environment.”

She added that both students were switched to another class.

Meanwhile, Thomas plans to continue to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Someone is standing up, or in this case sitting down, for people who have done a lot of things in the past or the present,” she said, according to CNN. “”I just hope that [the homeroom teacher] understands why I’m doing it. I don’t need to write an essay for her.”

About Melody Chan

Melody is an avid fan of traveling. Although she thinks the packing and unpacking process is tedious, she believes the ability to enlighten herself while visiting new places is all worth it. She has already fallen in love with the idea of one day seeing the whole world. She knows that the world's beauty extends further than what a lens can show and is so much more than just words painted on a page. But when she's not traveling, she'll have to settle for her favorite pastime, writing. She is an aspiring screenwriter and journalist.

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