Why do people choose not to stand for the pledge?


As you sit in advisory at your middle school, the intercom comes on, and the principal announces the news of the day. After that, they proceed to recite a very specific array of words…. Yup, it’s the Pledge of Allegiance! The process is simple: you stand up with your hand over your heart, and recite the pledge along with your advisor and fellow classmates. You may have noticed that the amount of students that stand up for the pledge has been decreasing as you’ve grown older, and we’re here to investigate why that might be!


Data Collection in Advisory

For three days, Nissi and I took notes on how many people in our advisory stood up for the pledge. This was so we could compare the results and see if we saw anything interesting. On the first day, 3 out of the 24 people present that day stood for the Pledge of Allegiance. On the second day, there were only 2 people who stood out of the 23 people attending that day, and finally, on the third day, again, the same 3 people stood out of the 24 attending.

This means that…

  • Amount of people that stand for the pledge but don’t recite it = ~8%
  • Amount of people that stand for the pledge and do recite it= 0%
  • Amount of people who do not stand for the pledge= ~92%

Conclusion: I noticed that it was the same people who were standing for the pledge every day without fail. I also noted that out of the people that stood, all of them stood silent without reciting the pledge. 

However, this wasn’t enough. It’s too much of a risk to only judge something out of a small sample size, so we decided to scale it up. To look further into the question at hand, last week, we asked students at BTMS whether they stand for the pledge or not, and if they recite it verbally. Surprisingly, there was a greater percentage of people who stood for the pledge compared to our class at a whopping 45.7%, and out of the people who stood, 25.7% of students said they verbally recited the pledge.

Conclusion: From this, we can learn that results vary greatly depending on the sample size, and what group you’re basing it on.

The Possible Reasons

First off, religious reasons. There’s a certain section in the Pledge that has been said to be a bit problematic in some communities. In the pledge, we say “One nation, under God”, which, as you may be able to infer, sparks the conversation of if god is real or not, and which one it is. If America hadn’t been a country with such a diverse population, this conversation probably didn’t have been held in the first place, but as we know, this country is a bag full of different religions and beliefs. An example of a person who might not stand for the pledge would be someone who is an Atheist, which is a person who does not believe in the existence or concept of god itself existing. Because of this, they may remain seated and quietly object to the “under God” part of the pledge since they do not recognize that god is real. 

Another reason why students might not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is that they just simply believe that America will and won’t provide ‘liberty and justice’. This could be because of personal experiences that they faced whether it be injustice, racism, sexism, and more. When they stay seated, it may be a quiet protest against the statement.

A big topic that my friends have talked about is the pledge being overall cult-ish or a kind of mindless activity. Some believe that us reciting the pledge is somewhat of a habit instead of something that we actually believe in. Therefore making it an instinctive thing rather than something we think about and process to be actually true. When we were kindergarteners, there was no warning or prior practice sessions held about the pledge being streamed on the intercom, and I remember my friend’s faces looking as confused as mine as looked at the teachers casually reciting the lyrics. 

Let’s get Personal! (Interview Section)

To get input from our community, we asked fellow students whether they stand for the pledge, and why they choose to do it.

Interviewee #1– “ I feel like I’m too old for it for some reason. The pledge somehow strikes me as childish because we’ve been doing it for years since we were kindergarteners. I also think it’s peer pressure because when I see the majority of the class not standing up, I feel like I’m going to be left out.”

Interviewee #2– “I just believed that if I stand up, people will look at me, make fun of me, etc. I just can’t stand the thought of being ridiculed.”

These two interviewees talk about peer pressure being a big factor in standing for the pledge. Peer pressure is very important in our society because it creates a sense of normalcy, even though it may not be in reality. When something is normal, other people have the tendency to follow that path because they don’t want to stand out. So when we see the majority of our classes not standing for the pledge, that may leave people who are undecided to not stand.

I also think Interviewee #1’s comment on the pledge being childish was very interesting. How could it be considered childish when our country’s oldest and most important citizens participate in it? I guess when they keep doing it as a child, they seem to outgrow it over the years.

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Is peer pressure a factor in why you do or don't stand for the pledge?


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Interviewee 3– “I felt like I was being forced to so. I don’t have a problem with doing the pledge, but it’s kind of like when you do the dishes on a whim vs. when your mom tells you to do it. Even at this school, last year, my advisory was forced to stand for the pledge, and my teacher would say, ‘Everyone stand for the pledge, GET UP!’”

Interviewee 4– “I do, because that’s what I’m used to, but I think kids should be more educated on what the actual words of the pledge mean, and its history. I also feel like it’s something in our daily lives that has been glossed over like it’s nothing. There definitely should be more conversations about it.”

Pledge facts and history:

1. Washington is one of the few states that allows people to have a choice whether they want to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or not. Those who want to remain seated should stay quiet while the ones who stand recite the pledge.

2. In other states, they have stricter guidelines for the Pledge of Allegiance. For example, in states like Texas and Florida, you need to get a note from your parents/guardian telling the school district why you aren’t going to stand, and the additional permission to execute it. In Delaware, any teacher or educator leading a classroom will be punished if they do not lead the pledge in their respective classrooms.

3. The original pledge was created in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who was a socialist minister. He wrote it in hopes that the people of the country would unite over the piece of writing.

The original was actually quite similar to the one we say today except for a few minor changes. It reads as follows:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Later on, in 1923, they added the words ‘to the flag of the United States of America’ to address community and unity within the country.

In 1954, the 34th president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to add ‘under God’ to the statement. Although it was never changed, Bellamy’s daughter objected to this change.

4. Originally, while saying the pledge, you were supposed to extend your right hand out with the palm facing upwards, but many said that it resembled the Nazi salute, and it was abruptly changed to the hand-over-the-heart.


Thank you for coming with us on our journey of discovering the reason why BTMS members do or don’t stand for the pledge. Just to let everyone know, it’s completely okay for you to think either way and for whatever reason that may be for. Make sure to not fall for peer pressure, and proudly represent yourself showing who you are and what you believe in!  ~Mika & Nissi~



And thanks to our amazing photographer Finn! They did a great job on such a short notice 🙂