CHARLESTON, W.Va., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A Charleston, W.Va., high school will no longer require students to stand during Friday morning pledges and songs, its principal said.
Clinton Giles, principal of Capital High School said he revised the policy Wednesday after a conversation with Kanawha County, W.Va., school Superintendent Ron Duerring. The policy now calls for students to "stand, or sit silently" as the U.S. national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance and the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is played over school public address systems.
Forcing students to stand for the song, which some regard as the "African-American National Anthem" and which Giles said was chosen because it embodies "the idea that everybody is somebody at Capital," upset at least two students and one student's mother, the Charleston Daily Mail reported Thursday.
Kim Bailey, whose son chose not to stand and was "sent to the office several times for his decision," the newspaper said, indicated her support for Giles' decision, noting, "I still think they need to stress the fact there is one national anthem."
A letter from local city council member and Bailey family friend Gail Harper to County Board of Education President Pete Thaw began the change in policy, Harper saying, "I'm not trying to be racist by any means. I'm just trying to defend this kid who believes something is being forced on him."
Thaw agreed, saying students should not be forced to stand for the weekly ritual, and Giles said a different song would be selected for the upcoming Friday, the newspaper reported.