CATONSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — A Baltimore County middle school girl who refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance is getting support from the ACLU.
“It just kind of clicked with me cause I’m getting older now and I’m actually realizing what this means,” Mariana Taylor said.
Taylor, 11, said she wanted to protest racism and sexism in America, and she received inspiration from Colin Kaepernick.
But like the former NFL player, Taylor’s decision to kneel put her in the spotlight — and her teacher at Catonsville Middle School reacted.
“She came up to me and she kind of said she kind of brought it up because a couple kids were asking why I was doing this. She told me that my previous answer about a week ago was just not ok — that I had to have a reason,” SHE SAID.
Taylor said the teacher told her she had to take the good and the bad with the country. The sixth-grader said the interaction, in front of the class, left her in tears.
“Mariana became upset right then and there. She was allowed to leave the classroom upset, the teacher did not suggest any kind of support that she go to the guidance counselor. It wasn’t until her second teacher could not calm her down that she was supportive of Mariana,” Mariana’s mother, Joanne Taylor, said.
The ACLU said the Supreme Court has already established that students and teachers do not lose First Amendment rights when they enter a school. The organization is now putting pressure on the school system to review its policies.
“We’re hoping that that change will prevent this from happening again and to prevent further misinterpretations that could impede on student’s free speech rights,” said Jay Jimenez, ACLU of Maryland legal associate.
Taylor says she will continue to kneel.
“My grandfather was in the Army and he would have been fine with me kneeling,” she said.
Baltimore County Public Schools released the following statement:
“We know of no BCPS student who has been reprimanded or punished for non-participation in patriotic observances. We fully support students’ rights and encourage student voice as articulated in board policy.”