ACLU: Catonsville 6th-grader wrongly punished for kneeling during the Pledge

ACLU: Catonsville 6th-grader wrongly punished for kneeling during the Pledge

CATONSVILLE, Md. (WBFF) - The ACLU of Maryland is criticizing a Catonsville school after an 11-year-old girl was reprimanded for kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance, according to the civil-rights organization.

Mariana Taylor, a Catonsville Middle School sixth-grader, was inspired by football player Colin Kaepernick to "take a knee" during a February recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, according to an ACLU statement Monday.

Her teacher allegedly said "the 'rules' require that she must stand for the Pledge" and "reprimanded her for being disrespectful and inappropriately sought to talk her out of kneeling," according to the statement.

When "Mariana left the classroom in tears," another teacher suggested she see the guidance counselor, according to the statement.

The ACLU wrote to Baltimore County Public Schools about the incident, asking the superintendent and school board to "clarify BCPS policy on student rights to dissent, to ensure that school officials understand and honor this well-established right."

Mariana told ACLU: "I decided to kneel because there is a lot of things I really don't agree with in the country happening - racism, sexism and the person in the White House, particularly the wall - it's not OK... I feel like it's important to stand up for what I believe in and I want to inspire other people to do it too."

She called her mother, Joanne Taylor, who met with the counselor and teacher, said the ACLU.

The guidance counselor supported Mariana but the teacher "pushed for Mariana to make a presentation to the class explaining herself. After further discussion, Ms. Taylor was willing to entertain an option of a classroom meeting, given the teacher's account of what happened," according to the statement.

The principal told Mariana's mother that "the policy was old and likely needed to be updated," according to the statement.

"The ACLU urges Baltimore County and all Maryland schools to review and update their policies to honor respectful student activism in the future, like silently 'taking a knee' during the Pledge of Allegiance," according to the statement.

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