(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on student speech and constitutional law, today sent a letter to New York school officials - including Mayor Michael Bloomberg - urging that a ban prohibiting kindergarten students to sing "God Bless the USA" at an upcoming graduation ceremony be reversed.
Principal Greta Hawkins of P.S. 90 pulled Lee Greenwood's patriotic ballad from the graduation program saying the song is not "age appropriate" and could end up "offending other cultures."
"This is not only ridiculous, but offensive to the many parents and students in the school who want to express their patriotism at the graduation ceremony," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "In less than one day, we have heard from many concerned Americans - including New York City residents - who find this decision deeply troubling. It appears this principal doesn't mind punishing patriotism for the sake of political correctness. There are no constitutional impediments preventing this song from being part of the program. In fact, permitting students to sing 'God Bless the USA' at the graduation ceremony is not only proper, but fully consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. There's still time to take corrective action, reverse this ban, and permit the students to sing the song. Public opinion, the First Amendment, and common sense all support this outcome."
The ACLJ letter, posted here, argues that "a student performance of 'God Bless the USA' at a graduation ceremony is no different than a teacher leading students in a voluntarily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Both are secular activities permissible in public schools, and both serve the important purpose of furthering the principles of patriotism and self-sacrifice in a group setting."
The letter was sent today to Superintendent Isabel DiMola of CEC District 21, as well as Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, and Principal Hawkins.
In just a matter of hours, more than one thousand people have expressed their support for "God Bless the USA" at the ACLJ website.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice is based in Washington, D.C.
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