Student suspended for refusing pledge

WFAA, Dallas/April 6, 2007
By David Schechter

A student who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance has been given a two-day suspension from Lewisville High.

He says, saying the pledge violates his religious beliefs.

The school district says his behavior is a distraction to the rest of the classroom.

For most Texans, the American flag is the fabric that binds us together.

Even more so, in this time of war.

In fact, it is state law that all children honor it daily by saying the pledge of allegiance.

That is, unless a child objects, like Adrian Boykin does.

"The only thing I pledge allegiance to is God, not a flag. It's cloth to me."

Boykin's family follows the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

They believe the pledge equates to worshiping an image or object above God.

"You're not supposed to put any idol before God," said Boykin's mother, Kolette.

Adrian Boykin says after several months in class, his teacher at Lewisville High finally noticed him not reciting the pledge.

The senior was sent to detention but refused to go, leading to a two-day suspension.

The district says a student has the right not to recite the pledge, but cannot cause distractions with their actions.

Hiram Sasser is an attorney with the conservative Liberty Legal Institute.

"The courts have been pretty clear. There has to practically be a riot. A material and substantial disruption before the school can say there's some kind of problem that we have to stop," he said.

He says Boykin is exercising the same right that allows other children to reject the teachings of evolution.

They don't have to believe it as fact.

"Schools are prohibited from mandating that our students believe anything," he said.

During World War II, the United States Supreme Court ruled that school children cannot be forced to say the pledge.

It was a time, like today, of great sacrifice and patriotism.

With that in mind, we asked Boykin to meet us at the National Cemetery to ask him if you can be patriotic, but refuse to say the pledge.

"It doesn't mean that you disrespect this country. It just means that you put something over it, which is God. That's all," he said.

He expects people will disagree with that but doesn't believe anyone can stop him from expressing it.

"You can love this country without pledging to a flag. That's all I'm saying."

The family has contacted the ACLU about challenging their son's suspension.

The district says it couldn't comment further because it involves a student discipline issue.

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