Have you ever been harassed by a teacher and assistant principal? Enidris Siurano Rodriguez has. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has stepped on in Rodriguez's behalf to end this harassment and support her choice to remain seated and silent during the daily recitation of the American Pledge of Allegiance.
Rodriguez, a 10th grade student attending school in Montgomery County, Maryland, has been refraining from standing and reciting The Pledge for the last three years as an outward demonstration of her concerns about U.S. policies toward Puerto Rico. Notably, no teacher or administrator has seen this practice as a problem until this year.
We are doing our young people a huge disservice when we preach about being unique and not following the crowd and then punish them for doing so. Rodriguez has chosen to express her disappointment with national decisions in a respectful and peaceful way, which by the way is supported in our Constitution.
According to Erik Erikson, a well-known psychologist who theorized about psychosocial development, Rodriguez is at the identity vs. role confusion stage. Erikson believed that 12-18 year olds start to develop a deep understanding of who they are at this stage. Having authority figures who support her growth is vitally important, and these authority figures extend past her parents. They extend to teachers, mentors, older siblings and community figures.
Not only have her teacher and administrator not supported her growth, but they have sent the message that you should take a stand for something you believe in...as long as it's what I believe in too.
Whether you agree with Rodriguez or not, you have to acknowledge that she isn't doing anything illegal and she is respecting others' desire to pledge allegiance to the American flag. Did her teacher, Deanna Jennings, and her assistant principal consider that she isn't allegiant to America? Why "pledge" allegiance literally and figuratively if you don't really mean it?
Malcolm X once said, "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything." It looks like Rodriguez has found her stand...sitting.
Psychology Is Everywhere!