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Sukayla Jones, a junior at Edwardsville High School in Illinois, doesn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s a decision she made when she was 12 and she’s stuck with it ever since.

“During the moment of silence, I don’t say anything. And when they say the pledge, I face my phone down and I’m quiet, and I don’t stand and I don’t say it,” Jones said.

That’s fine. That’s legal. Assuming she has thoughtful reasons for her dissent, you can also say that’s patriotic — she loves the country so much, she wants it to get better instead of pretending everything is great and that there’s “liberty and justice for all.”

Whatever her reason, during a test on Monday morning, Sukayla said her English literature teacher included a question about how students should act when a substitute teacher is present. It’s obviously a gimme question since the right answer is obvious, but look at choice C:

… the third answer read, “Refuse to stand for the Pledge and then abruptly walk out of the classroom, rather than take responsibility for your actions and simply discuss your choice in a mature manner.

Of all the options he could’ve included, he went with the one mocking her? That’s certainly what it looks like to me.

“I was, like, I know this is about me because no one else has done this before in his class,” Jones said. “I felt really disrespected and wrong for what I did.”

Jones’ mother, Susan Nicholson, believes the teacher was targeting her daughter.

“…You are targeting her and it’s immature and disrespectful,” she said.

The Edwardsville School District merely said students have a right to remain seated during the Pledge and added that the conflict had been resolved. But Sukayla’s family says they would also like a public apology from the teacher.

The best case scenario here, in my opinion, is that the teacher isn’t referring to Sukayla directly… but even then, it means he thought it would be hilarious to include a throwaway answer about the horrors of not standing for the Pledge. That’s still a horrible thing to say!

The district needs to make it clear to teachers that sitting during the Pledge is a perfectly acceptable option for all students. And this teacher in particular should either apologize to the family or explain whatever the hell he was trying to do since I can’t think of any scenario where his humor actually looks harmless.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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