A 15-year-old Texas high school student says he was suspended Thursday and Friday for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in a silent protest of government spying.
"I’m really tired of our government taking advantage of us," Needville High School sophomore Mason Michalec told KHOU.com.
"I don’t agree with the NSA spying on us. And I don’t agree with any of those Internet laws."
He told the station he’d been sitting out the Pledge for most of the year, but ran into flak when a different teacher was at the head of the room.
"… [S]he told me, 'This is my classroom. This is the principal’s request. You’re going to stand,'" Michalec told KHOU.
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After his two-day suspension, Michalec was warned he’d be in for more forced time off if he continued his protest, Fox News reports.
"I’m angry and frustrated and annoyed that they would try to write me up for something I have the right to do," the teen told KHOU.
Residents of the town about 45 miles from Houston were divided on the issue.
"The soldiers are out there, they’re doing their job, and he should stand up," Jo Castillo told the station. "You’ve got a lot of things here that a lot of people don’t have, that’s respect, that’s freedom."
But war veteran Dean Reese backed the teen’s right to protest.
"The kid’s well-spoken, and he’s well-informed," Reese said. "It’s not like he’s ignorant, he’s not doing it to make people mad. He’s doing it because of his personal beliefs."
A similar protest
by a middle school student near Pittsburgh in 2012 sparked a federal lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.
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