One criteria that US courts may consider in "under God" cases is whether or not students feel coerced by either their schools or peers into saying the Pledge of Allegiance with the words "under God." Some state laws stipulate that students are permitted to opt out of saying the Pledge, usually with permission of their parent or guardian. Debate continues on whether peer pressure, even considering the students' right to opt out (in 26 states as of Oct. 2009), would constitute religious coercion.
Students are expected to speak the phrase "under God" when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The consequences for omitting or amending this phrase are not legally determined and may vary depending upon the state or school board. According to an Aug. 2003 report by the Education Commission of the States, 43 states have laws regarding requirements for student recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools (as of Aug. 2003). (Seven states have no laws regarding requirements for the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools: Iowa, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, Vermont, and Wyoming.)
1 School board or charter school board of directors may waive the requirement annually by majority vote. 2 U.S. pledge required at least once each month, as is instruction in the Mississippi pledge. 3 Commissioner must prepare a program for state schools to use. 4 Pertains only to students in grades 1-6. 5 Statute outlines the right to display the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem in schools. 6 Students are required to recite the pledge unless parents or legal guardians object. 7 Students are excused from reciting the pledge upon written request of parent or guardian. Students are also required to recite the state pledge. 8 The Pledge is required at the beginning of each day in public elementary schools. The law encourages recitation at the beginning of one day per week in public secondary schools. 9 The Pledge is required at least one day per week in grades 1-8.