It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
You’re drying a salad bowl in the kitchen, idly wondering if there’s anything on Netflix that you haven’t already seen, when you overhear your kid saying something about the Pledge of Allegiance from the living room. You get chills up and down your arms, but you remind yourself not to panic. You didn’t hear the context. You won’t freak out until there’s something to freak out about.
“Sweetie,” you say, carefully disguising the anxiety rising up in your throat. “Can you come here a minute?”
Your son grumbles about pausing his game before arriving in the kitchen with a distracted look on his face. “Yes?”
“Tell me what you said in there.”
“Mrs. Brown forgot to have us say the Pledge of Allegiance this morning,” he says.
And he says it so casually, completely unaware of the bomb he just dropped on your heart.
Your blood runs cold. Your worst fears, come to life. Patriotism and God, the twin evils of American society! And here was your precious angel, being indoctrinated by those monsters down at the school. Your efforts to keep him safe, all for naught.
Okay, take a deep breath. It’s only a dream. You live in Florida, dammit, and that crap doesn’t happen around here!
Sunshine state lawmakers have taken measures to make sure of it, actually. Those measures received widespread attention this week when Micah Brienan of Tallahassee posted a form his niece brought home from school on his Facebook page.
The form was an opt-out document for parents to sign and return if they wanted to keep their kids safe from the twin evils mentioned above.
“I understand my rights as a parent and I request that my child, noted above, be excused from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance,” says the form. “This request includes standing and placing his/her right hand over his/her heart.”
Hey, my child doesn’t identify as male or female, so your binary pronouns make us feel very excluded.
“I believe it’s another stop in the progressive political movement to destroy the education system,” Brienan told Fox News’s Todd Starnes. “We have a lot of American values and traditions that seem to be whittling away.”
You can say that again, but as Starnes points out in his column, Republicans – not Democrats – are responsible for the law mandating the new forms. Under that law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott, all public school students must be informed in writing of their right to abstain from the Pledge.
Well, Florida Republicans, you must be doing a bang-up job with the state if you have time to put this kind of nonsense into law.
And as for this opt-out form, Brienan’s sister-in-law said it all in her note back to the school: “This is the dumbest thing I have ever read and I am so ashamed of this.”
That about covers it.