Full lesson plan for Students’ First Amendment Rights in School
Freedom of speech is an important issue and it is vital that we protect that freedom. We have the right to say a lot of things in the United States. But we don’t have the right to threaten, harass, intimidate, or otherwise mistreat someone.
There can be no doubt that bullying is a serious problem in our schools. Bullying can have serious effects on the physical and emotional well-being of bullied students. Schools with high rates of bullying perform worse academically than schools with lower rates of bullying. And, students who commit acts of school violence frequently have been victims of bullying.
On September 11, 2006, former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr - now a lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis -- asked the Supreme Court to review a March 10 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in the case of Frederick v. Morse. The decision upheld a public high school student's First Amendment right to display a banner off campus. Starr represents the school district on a pro bono basis.
As Congress revisits federal education policy, gay rights activists are pressing for the enactment of the Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, which would prohibit harassment of students in public schools “on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Bethel School District v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675, was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court involving free speech in public schools. High school student Matthew Fraser was suspended from school in the Bethel School District in Washington for making a speech including sexual double entendres at a school assembly. The Supreme Court held that his suspension did not violate the First Amendment.
The decision in one of the most important student speech cases to reach the Court in decades came at the end of last term. The case, Morse v. Frederick, concerned the rights of a public school student to unfurl a banner reading “Bong hits 4 Jesus” at a school-sponsored event held off school grounds.
Morse v. Frederick, (551 U.S. 393 (2007)), is a United States Supreme Court case where the Court held, 5–4, that the First Amendment does not prevent educators from suppressing student speech that is reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use at or across the street from a school-supervised event. In 2002, Juneau-Douglas High School principal Deborah Morse suspended Joseph Frederick after he displayed a banner reading "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" across the street from the school during the 2002 Winter Olympics torch relay. Frederick sued, claiming his constitutional rights to free speech were violated. His suit was dismissed by the federal district court, but on appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling, concluding that Frederick's speech rights were violated. The case then went on to the Supreme Court.
Case in which the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 2007, ruled (5–4) that Alaskan school officials had not violated a student’s First Amendment freedom of speech rights after suspending him for displaying, at a school event, a banner that was seen as promoting illegal drug use.
The First Amendment rights of student journalists are not violated when school officials prevent the publication of certain articles in the school newspaper.
Hazelwood School District et al. v. Kuhlmeier et al., 484 U.S. 260 (1988), was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that held that public school curricular student newspapers that have not been established as forums for student expression are subject to a lower level of First Amendment protection than independent student expression or newspapers established (by policy or practice) as forums for student expression.
The Shawnee Mission School Board in Kansas unanimously approved a policy on Aug. 12 that set lawful parameters for what student media in the district can and can’t publish.
After a month of controversy over new social networking guidelines, Lodi Unified School District trustees finally agreed on the wording of a reworked policy. They hope the new guidelines meet the satisfaction of students who objected to the original policy, as well as an attorney who threatened to sue the district over First Amendment rights.
Justice Clarence Thomas set off a controversy in his dissent in the Supreme Court’s gay-marriage decision by reciting core American beliefs about the innate dignity and rights of all persons, whatever their circumstances or the injustices done to them.
Op-Ed: Free-speech rights at Washington County high school turn into negative lesson about censorship
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court that defined First Amendment rights of students in U.S. public schools.
This lesson provides background about the Supreme Court’s rulings related to student speech in schools. A background knowledge of these cases is presumed by the Cyberbullying lesson and workshop. If students are not already familiar with those cases, the volunteers or the teacher should teach the concepts in this lesson.
The social media policy of the Lodi Unified School District is eliciting strong protests from students at Bear Creek High School in Stockton, some of whom voiced their concerns at the board meeting Tuesday night.
Please contact us with any questions you may have about any of our programs or would like additional information.