A Texas high school student has filed suit against her school district, claiming she was punished for refusing to recite the Mexican national anthem and pledge of allegiance as part of a Spanish class assignment.
Brenda Brinsdon, then 15, told TheBlaze exclusively in 2011 that students in her intermediate Spanish class were instructed to recite the Mexican anthem and pledge individually in front of their peers at Achieve Early College High School in McAllen, Texas. Brinsdon refused, telling TheBlaze at the time that “Reciting pledges to Mexico and being loyal to it has nothing to do with learning Spanish.” She also provided TheBlaze with video she recorded of students taking part in the assignment.
As an alternative task to reciting the pledge and anthem, she was assigned an essay on the history of the Mexican revolution — an assignment for which she received a failing grade.
According to the lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday, Brinsdon was not allowed to return to the Spanish class after her story received media coverage. She was made to sit in the office each day instead of attend class and ultimately failed the course.
She is suing the McAllen Independent School District, principal Yvette Cavazos and teacher Reyna Santos for violating her constitutional right to freedom of speech and equal protection under the law — according to the suit, the district has a policy to excuse students from saying the American pledge of allegiance if they object, but not if they oppose pledging to another country.
“The plaintiff has been punished for being a patriotic American,” attorney Erin Mersino told TheBlaze Thursday. Mersino is with the Thomas More Law Center, which filed the suit on the Brinsdon family’s behalf. “She has been punished for not pledging her loyalty to a different country which used to be determined to be treason, now a person is given an alternative assignment and given a failing grade and is kicked out of class for doing so.”
Mersino said they want a judgement from the court saying the school district was wrong and preventing something similar from happening to another student. Brinsdon herself is half-Mexican, with an American father and a mother who immigrated to the U.S. She still attends the school as a junior.
“This truly is a case about a teenager who’s a patriot, who is a true American,” Mersino said. “She did the right thing by following her conscience and not doing what her teacher was compelling her to do by pledging her loyalty to a different country to which she is not loyal.”
A representative from the McAllen Independent School District did not immediately return a request for comment from TheBlaze.
In 2011, a district spokesman defended the pledge assignment, telling TheBlaze it was “simply spreading the culture of another country.”