Rather than disciplining students, we encourage school staff to consider using any such protests as an opportunity to teach students about the value of civic engagement and of having robust, open, and respectful dialogues about these complex issues.
Of course, some, including the president, view the refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance or stand at attention during the National Anthem as unpatriotic. Yet, in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, issued by the Supreme Court during World War II, a time when loyalty to the United States assumed heightened importance, the Court succinctly and eloquently articulated that true patriotism thrives only in an environment governed by freedom of expression:
“To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. […] If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by or act their faith therein.”