Tennessee Senate unanimously backs Pledge of Allegiance bill
By The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. A bill requiring public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day was approved yesterday by the Senate.
The measure, still pending in the House, passed unanimously with little debate. If it becomes law, it would take effect next school year.
"It should be tough in Tennessee to be unpatriotic," state Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, said when asked about the vote.
The bill would allow a student to opt out of saying the pledge "if the student or the student's parent or legal guardian objects on religious, philosophical or other grounds to the student participating in such exercise." Those students not participating would be allowed to sit or stand quietly at their desks during the daily recitation. Those who cannot participate because of a disability would automatically be exempt.
Amendments give teachers the option of saying the pledge along with their students and require schools to make the rules and choice of participation clear to parents, students and educators.
In the House, the bill cleared the K-12 subcommittee last week, but not without objections. Opponents said the law might open the door to other cultures that want to say their pledge in school.
Others questioned the necessity of the bill, saying children and teachers can say the pledge now if they wish. Some lawmakers are worried that children who choose not to participate for religious or philosophical reasons will be criticized by their peers.
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