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Freedom Of Speech For Students

1388 words - 6 pages

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is a right, through the amended Constitution of our nation, afforded to all natural born citizens of the Untied States. So why is it that students are subject to a lower level of this right? There have been numerous court cases in which students have challenged the “powers that be” in order to protect their rights as citizens of the United States. These cases had various verdicts, not because students do not have the same right to freedom of speech as adults do, but because there are other laws that conflict with where and when a student has the right to exercise that right. Under law, schools are non-public forums. A public forum is a ...view middle of the document...

The ruling was 7-2, in favor of the Tinkers. The Court found that schools could not restrict speech that does not cause undue interruptions of school activities, which wearing an armband silently did not. That being the case, the school could not suspend the students based upon symbolic speech that is a legally protected right under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Therefore, students are allowed silent protest or symbolic speech that does not cause disruption of normal school activities under the decision of Tinker vs. Des Moines.
Students may have the right to symbolic speech while on school grounds, however, that differs greatly from what is allowed for students when it comes to freedom of speech through press. The case of Hazlewood vs. Kuhlmeier (1988) is one in which students challenged their right to freedom of speech through press and loss. In this case, students filed suit against a principal that deleted stories from the school paper, under the conclusion that the stories written did not protect the anonymity of the students interviewed and that the content of the articles was inappropriate for some of the younger students in the school. The two deleted articles dealt directly with teen pregnancy, in which three students that had been pregnant during the course of the school year were interviewed and the other dealt with the matter of divorce. The Supreme Court decision was that the students 1st Amendment rights were not violated because the paper was school-financed and therefore not considered a public forum. Hence, the students were subject to a lower level of the 1st Amendment than the one applied to independent school newspapers or papers that by policy/practice open their pages to student opinion. Therefore, based upon the decision of Hazlewood vs. Kuhlmeir, students are not afforded protection of freedom of speech to the same degree in writing under a school-sponsored paper as they would be in writing an independent paper. When working under school finances, students must respect the regulations of that institution and under the 1st Amendment principals and school officials are allowed to censor any non-forum student literature as long as there is an educational purpose for doing so. The official is not allowed to censor based on personal opinion, but as long as the newspaper/literature has not been established as an open forum for student expression, it is subject to censoring.
Censorship is a big factor when it comes to many cases dealing with students. In the case of Morse vs. Frederick (2007) a student, Frederick, was suspended by Principal Morse after unfurling a a banner reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” during a school supervised event. The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Morse, stating that the principal had not infringed upon Frederick’s 1st Amendment rights because she reasonably interpreted the banner as a breach of the school’s policies on drug abuse prevention. Frederick took the cases to the...

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