Houston Teen Sues After School Expels Her for Not Standing During Pledge of Allegiance

India Landry (KHOU-TV screenshot)
India Landry (KHOU-TV screenshot)

A 17-year-old Houston student is suing her high school after she was kicked out for not standing for the daily Pledge of Allegiance, indicative of a troubling backlash many African Americans are facing when they choose not to stand for the pledge or national anthem.

The New York Daily News reports that India Landry, a senior at Windfern High School, has sat “hundreds of times” during the pledge since she was in ninth grade. However, Principal Martha Strother expelled her Monday for her action.


A federal lawsuit brought against the school alleges that India was threatened by police if her mother did not come within five minutes, and that the administrators at the school had “recently been whipped into a frenzy” by the controversy caused by NFL players kneeling for the national anthem.

“I see what’s going on with the country,” India’s mother, Kizzy, told the Daily News on Saturday. “I thought, ‘Let me hurry up and get to my baby before something happens to her.’”

Kizzy also said that she’s proud of her daughter and that India chose to sit on her own.

The teen was allowed to return to the school Friday but is uncomfortable. She says that she plans to continue to sit during the pledge.


“Students cannot be instantly expelled except for being a danger,” lawyer Randall Kallinen said. “The only danger appeared to be that her sitting whipped Principal Strother into a political frenzy.”

India tells the News that she started sitting for the pledge in ninth grade and that “police brutality” and “Donald Trump being president” are her reasons.


India is only one of many students and others who are facing repercussions for standing up against police brutality and racism in America by following former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s lead of kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 football season.

Twitter is rife with stories of African Americans being threatened or catcalled and having drinks thrown on them, or even having the police come to their homes, for exercising their constitutional right to protest.


Read more at the New York Daily News.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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Political Science isn't Rocket Science - Except when it is

We settled this freaking 70+ years ago - you can’t expel students for not saying the pledge or otherwise acknowledging the flag(West Virginia v. Barnette) . You can’t expel or threaten students for taking peaceful, non-disruptive of class purpose/learning protests like silent actions/arm bands (Tinker v. Des Moines). After school activities can get more complicated, because they are “privileges” and you can’t express a message that is likely to lead to violence or is subversive of the school’s mission (like holding up a sign arguably encouraging drug use, in the “Bong Hits for Jesus” case of Morse v. Fredrickson), but this girl’s conduct is none of that. Some teachers and administrators need a remedial course in the difference between silent protest and what I assume they considered “insubordination” or “willful misconduct” or something.