After declining to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance, a Native American high school student in Oklahoma was supposedly kicked out of the classroom on Tuesday, Feb 28, according to the Indian Country Media Network.
Cierra Fields, who is a member of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation, claimed that after refusing to participate in the pledge, her teacher yelled at her and kicked her out of the classroom.
“After I said I was not going to participate, my teacher raised her voice and said she refused to educate ungodly and unpatriotic students,” said Fields. “She was angry and told me that I needed to take an online course to better understand why I needed to participate.”
Fields continued, “After I refused to pledge to the flag, my teacher removed me from class by taking me into the hallway in direct view of some of the students. My teacher questioned me and screamed at me about how her father missed a year of her life in Vietnam and how her husband was an Afghanistan war veteran.”
Fields has a history in being active in social justice work, including anti-rape advocacy work. She also participated in the Oklahoma women’s march in support of the Violence Against Women Act and carried a sign that read, “1 in 3 Native women are raped. I did NOT ask to be the ONE.”
“As a Native youth, I do not agree that there is liberty and justice for all people,” Fields said. “To tell me such a thing and bring into question my rights to take a stance is in direct violation of the First Amendment and West Virginia State School Board Vs. Barnette. Such behavior by a teacher also violates the Religious Freedom Act of 1978, as it questions my beliefs.”
According to the principal of Fort Gibson high school, Gary Sparks, Fields was never removed from her classroom. “We did not have any students removed from class for not standing. During third period, we always do the flag salute and the teacher just asked [Fields] why she didn’t want to. [The student] explained why she didn’t and asked if she could come down to the office, which she was allowed to do.”