From Classically Liberal:
Will Phillips, is a fifth-grade student at West Fork Middle School in West Fork, Arkansas. He is also a student who got into a bit of trouble with the school authorities, especially a substitute teacher who overstepped her boundaries.
Not long ago Will came home and told his mother and father, Laura and Jay Phillips, that he was no longer going to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school. He told them that the pledge talked about "liberty and justice" for all, but that he didn't think this existed for gay people. He told his parents: "To say them [the words of the pledge] and not mean them would be a lie."
But a substitute teacher started getting on his case every day he refused. The teacher just wouldn't let the matter rest. On the fourth day she tried guilt, telling the boy that his mother and grandmother would want him to say the pledge. His response was: "With all due respect, you can jump in a lake." As Laura Phillips said: "Don't push him—four days of hassle, hassle, hassle and raise your voice. He's going to lose his temper." He did, and he had every right to. The matter of forcing students to say the pledge was cleared up in 1943. Apparently this part of Arkansas is stuck in 1942. Schools have no such authority.
I started school in pre- to early civil rights era rural Virginia, where we said the Pledge, said a prayer, and all had New Testaments [with Psalms and Proverbs added] handed out by the Gideons in every public school classroom. We also had nuclear war drills in which we would literally get under our desks in case the Commies hit the microwave relay tower on Afton Mountain with an H-bomb. I suppose it was my earliest lesson in how to kiss my ass goodbye.
It was many, many years, given that upbringing, before I questioned the idea of visible loyalty oaths to the State in a free society.
I am pleased to see that Will Phillips got there many years before I did.