We stand for the Pledge,’ teacher tells 6-year-old who took a knee in class

The take-a-knee protests over racial justice now run the age gamut — from 6 to 97.

A 6-year-old, emulating NFL football players, kneeled for the Pledge of Allegiance in his Tampa suburb classroom.

But his action didn’t go over any better than the NFL stars’ protests went over with President Trump.

The boy’s teacher at Wiregrass Elementary School in Pasco County told him to stand and show respect for the flag. His mother says the school should not have publicly reprimanded him.

Eugenia McDowell told ABC News that the teacher sent her a text message on Monday, alerting her of her son’s protest and how she had admonished him. McDowell was not pleased with the response because she felt the admonishment in front of his classmates encroached on her son’s freedom of speech. McDowell passed the text along to ABC News.

The teacher’s message to McDowell read: “I knew where he had seen [kneeling], but I did tell him that in the classroom, we are learning what it means to be a good citizen, we’re learning about respecting the United States of America and our country symbols and showing loyalty and patriotism and that we stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

A spokesperson for the Pasco County School District told ABC that the teacher responded to the incident by mouthing, “We stand for the pledge” when she saw the boy kneeling. The district policy requires students to have written exemption from their parents if they don’t plan to take part in the pledge.

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The night before, on Sunday, one in eight NFL players, about 200, took a knee before their games during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social inequality.

President Trump took to Twitter and said that the NFL should have rules prohibiting kneeling during the national anthem.

In one tweet he said, “Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad Ratings!” In speeches, he called for players to be fired. People, Trump said, “MUST honor and respect” the American flag.

McDowell didn’t know what her son planned on doing, but he’d had plenty of inspiration. Aside from the televised football games, his two older brothers knelt during the national anthem at their high school football game last year, McDowell told the Tampa Bay Times.

“What he did was have a difference of opinion. He was not being disrespectful. He was silently protesting and exercising his constitutional right,” McDowell told ABC News. “My concern is she infringed upon his constitutional right to express himself, to protest peacefully, and she also made him feel like his decision to come up with his own opinion about things was the wrong thing to do.”

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