Free Expression Rights of Students By David L. Hudson Jr. . Student free-speech examples. Can a student wear a t-shirt with a religious, anti-gay message? Can a student criticize his teacher and principal online on his own computer without repercussions?
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Free Expression Rights of StudentsBy David L. Hudson Jr.
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.”
School officials can censor student expression only if it “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.”
Has the student expression led to the shutting down of the school computer lab or the cancelling of classes?
"I know a man who is firm -- he's firm in his pants, he's firm in his shirt, his character is firm -- butmost . . . of all, his belief in you, the students of Bethel, is firm.
Jeff Kuhlman is a man who takes his point and pounds it in. If necessary, he'll take an issue andnail it to the wall. He doesn't attack things in spurts -- he drives hard, pushing and pushing untilfinally -- he succeeds.
Jeff is a man who will go to the very end -- even the climax, for each and every one of you.So vote for Jeff for A. S. B. vice-president -- he'll never come between you and the best ourhigh school can be."
“The undoubted freedom to advocate unpopular and controversial views in schools and classrooms must be balanced against the society’s countervailing interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior.”
“Educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.”
Billy is proud of his Southern heritage. He wears a Confederate flag jacket to school. He doesn’t mean to offend other students. However, several students complain that the jacket is insensitive and offends them.
The principal orders Billy to remove the jacket or go home. The principal fears the jacket could exacerbate racial tensions at the school, which has had some racial tension. However, school officials have allowed students to wear clothing which contained other racially-tinged symbols.
A student in Milwaukee wrote an anonymous article for the school’s underground newspaper. The article was entitled “So You Want To Be A Hacker” and purportedly explained how to “hack the school’s gay ass computers.” When the administration found out who the author was, the student was expelled for one year, arguing that the article “endangered school property.”
Frank, a public high school student created a webpage on his home computer that criticized the school principal and teachers with crude and vulgar language. The student’s homepage contained a hyperlink to the school’s webpage.
Several students, upset over the sites content, accessed Frank’s homepage at school and showed the school’s computer teacher. The computer teacher then showed the school principal who was outraged.
The principal suspended the student for 10 days because of the offensiveness of the speech. The principal did not speak to any other students before deciding to take disciplinary action against the student.