Why you should not stand at the next National Anthem

We need to change arbitrary social norms that play an underlying hand in perpetuating disability stigmas.

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I attended church this past Easter Sunday for the first time in over 10 years. While I was sitting there remembering why I’m not religious, I came to a intense not-related realization.

Several times, everyone was signaled to stand during the service. As I sat there while everyone stood, I realized this isn’t just a custom that occurs at Church. During the National Anthem, we stand to signify patriotism, respect, and pride. We stand before a judge to signify respect. We stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, again, to show our respect. Not being able to stand during these events, I have always felt somewhat uncomfortable, as all my peers stood and I was a sprout in a field of fully grown flowers.

I have not been to an event that warranted standing for respect in a while, and at Church, I was reminded this cultural norm that I cannot take part in is something we need to retire.

How do people who don’t have the ability to stand feel when standing is a cultural sign of respect? I can tell you first hand, like shit. This ideal directly plays into several disability stigmas on a very large and impactful level that I’m just now realizing.

Why does standing = respect?

This association that is not inclusive perpetuates the idea that disability is lesser than. It says that the majority of society that attends these events can stand and that’s all that matters. It says who cares about disability.

Besides the obvious larger impact, let’s think about it on an individual level. Obviously people who are standing during these events can visibly see that I cannot physically stand. What about someone with an invisible disability who can’t stand? Will people think they’re being disrespectful? I know I would, because that is what we were taught is socially acceptable.

We used to live in this same world we exist in, where killing disabled people and shutting them away was the social norm. But, we progressed, together.

I move to abolish standing for respect.

A physical action that not everyone can part take in is not a social norm we should be engaging in as a society. 

Let’s have respect not only for our leaders, but our audience.

I’m sure my little blog will not have a significant impact on this cultural norm that has been around for decades. But, if you know someone who cannot stand or want to be an ally for inclusion — next time you’re at an event that warrants standing for respect, instead, sit in solidarity.