Long before the media frenzy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against police brutality ever existed- Native American High School student Leilani Thomas has been sitting down during the Pledge of Allegiance since second grade.
This year, however, she has been met with opposition for the first time- as her teacher had decided to punish Leilani for not pledging allegiance by way of lowering her grades.
As Bianca Graulau of KXTV reports Leilani told reporters:
“My mom and my dad brought up what it meant to us and our people,” Leilani said. “So I just started sitting down.
But it was only recently in the aftermath of Kaepernick’s move to kneel during the National Anthem- has one of her teachers at Lower Lake High School Taken issue with her refusal to stand during the the Pledge.
“She told me I was being disrespectful and I was pretty mad,” Leilani said. “She was being disrespectful to me also, saying I was making bad choices, and I don’t have the choice to sit during the pledge.”
The unnamed teacher, however, stands alone.
“Konocti School District Superintendent Donna Becnel is standing by Leilani and the other student who chose to sit. When asked why, Becnel said because of the first amendment.
“They have the same rights when they walk into the schoolhouse than anybody else does,” Becnel said.”
The superintendent said its district policy to respect the students’ free speech. The school switched Leilani and her friend to another teacher after learning about the incident.
Leilani says she will continue to sit and is now getting support from many of her classmates.
“I’m understanding it more that it means a lot and to a lot of my people also,” she said.
Kaepernick’s protest has created a trickle down effect in that even reached students at the high school the level. Though Leilani protested long before he did- her classmates are finally getting the message as to why.
Watch the video below to see what Lelani had to say in her own words.
(Article by Tasha Sharifa)
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