It's already been settled that schools can not legally require a child to recite the pledge of allegiance in the United States of America, in fact they can't even require a child to stand up for it, per a separate case.

So lets say that two students in a classroom, who sit next to each other, have chosen not to stand or participate in the pledge of allegiance. During the pledge of allegiance the two students continue an unrelated whispered conversation while the rest of the kids are reciting the pledge of allegiance.

Can the school prevent these students from having this conversation?

On the one hand forcing students to maintain a respectful silence feels similar to forcing a child to stand during the pledge as an indirect method of supporting the pledge. However, schools have the right to prevent talking and disorderly conduct from children in general.

If the children in question were speaking quietly, not loud enough to be overly disruptive to those participating in the pledge, would these theoretical students have a right spend the time talking, since they refuse to support the pledge, or would the school be legally justified and forcing them to stay silent during it?

  • There is a lot more room for state control of students around the pledge than the Flag Salute Cases suggest. For example, in Texas, students have to stand for the pledge unless they have a note from their parents. lawandcrime.com/important/…
    – Just a guy
    Dec 22, 2019 at 6:08

1 Answer 1


Schools have a broad power to stop students from engaging in disruptive behaviors. If the school deems this behavior disruptive, then it can demand that it stop as much as it can demand that any other conversations stop during any lesson.

The fact that the students may not be overheard by others doesn't change much. Students can't talk, for example, during tests. Again, schools have a broad latitude in determining what is or isn't disruptive.

In "Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier", the Court determined that schools may suppress speech if it's "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns."

It doesn't mean that a student can't (for example) protest the pledge itself (in a non-disruptive manner) because, in "Tinker v. Des Moines", the Court determined that "students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .