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ACLU calls Oklahoma school district’s national anthem policy “unconstitutional and unenforceable”

American flag

STUART, Okla. – After a small Oklahoma school district adopted a policy regarding the national anthem, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is speaking out.

The policy says students, athletes and spectators are “expected” to stand during the national anthem with no “gestures of demonstration or protest.”

The policy adopted by the school board says it isn’t intended to force anyone to violate their religious, political or social beliefs. It asks that all stand out of respect to those who have died for the country.

It also says students who violate the policy would be disciplined on a case-by-case basis. Potential action against spectators is not addressed.

School Superintendent Tracy Blasengame told the McAlester News-Capital the policy is intentionally vague so the district doesn’t paint itself into a corner.

However, the ACLU says the policy is “unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

“Stuart Public Schools’ new policy is blatantly unconstitutional and unenforceable. The Supreme Court has made clear that students have the right to express themselves. Our Constitution guarantees that public schools can neither mandate forced displays of patriotism and nationalism, nor forbid lawful protests against injustice. Stuart Public Schools has chosen to violate both of these guarantees. This school district’s school’s leaders are in desperate need of a First Amendment lesson, one that they are likely to receive swifty in the event they actually attempt to enforce this unlawful policy,” said Legal Director, Brady Henderson.

“Forcing students to stand for the National Anthem is irresponsible and flies in the face of every conceivable understanding of the First Amendment. If this school district were actually interested in real patriotism, they would do their duty as a government actor to uphold the values of the Constitution rather than waste taxpayers’ time and resources with an unlawful attempt to shut down the expression of their students and staff,” said Allie Shinn, Director of External Affairs.

The district, with about 280 students, is about 90 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.