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Houston Matters

Houston Student Sues School District Over Expulsion For Sitting During Pledge

India Landry, a senior from Windfern High School, is suing her school district after being expelled for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. We learn about her case and discuss our national fixation on things that are largely symbolic.


India Landry, a 17-year-old senior from Windfern High School.


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India Landry, a 17-year-old senior from Houston’s Windfern High School, is suing her school district after being expelled for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance on Monday (Oct. 2, 2017).

This wasn’t the first time Landry had sat during the pledge. She’d been doing it ever since she was in ninth grade. Nevertheless, Principal Martha Strother expelled her for her most recent action. Landry has since been allowed to return to school, but says she’s uncomfortable. She says she plans to continue to sit during the pledge.

A statement released by Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, said no student would be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the pledge, and that the matter would be dealt with internally.

Randall Kallinen is a civil rights attorney representing Landry. He joins us to explain her lawsuit.

Then, Rocky Rhodes, constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, joins us to discuss the constitutional rights at the heart of the matter and whether Landry’s rights were violated.

Also: We're following up with another conversation stemming from this lawsuit. Why are we seemingly fixated on having intense arguments over things that are largely symbolic? Are there other times in U.S. history when this has been the case? More recent examples could include reaction to NFL players kneeling/not standing for the national anthem, and Austin marking today as Indigenous Peoples' Day instead of Columbus Day.

We talk with history professor Jeremi Suri from UT-Austin's Department of History. He reflects on why there are more controversies cropping up over political ideologies.