Soto 1Makayla SotoZeller Eng 7-805 May 2015Student Rights On university and high school campuses across America, the First Amendment is being violated. Students, uninformed or otherwise, are being stripped of their constitutional right to free speech resulting in suspension, expulsion and in some cases violence on and off campus. Regardless of religious, ethnic or economic background students are entitled the right to express themselves without consequence so long as it does not interfere with or disrupt the learning environment (Wheeler). This includes any type of speech, whether it be acrimonious abasement, polemical in nature, blasphemous or the most upheld plaudit. Social media has given new limelight to the discussion of the right of school administrators to involve themselves in “cyber-bullying” or other abusive speech that occurs off campus in the digital realm. While some believe this type of speech should have consequence, it is under no circumstance that the First Amendment allows the government to restrict free speech unless it is deemed that it threatens bodily injury or in some way violates the rights of others. Therefore, a school does not have the right to infringe upon the free speech rights of its students, so long as said speech does not threaten bodily harm against another student or student(s) or it can be reasonably proved that the speech will disrupt the learning environment. In the case of Mary Beth Tinker and her siblings, the Supreme Court ruled that “ students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’ ” (Wheeler). This 1965 case detailed the actions of school administrators and their efforts to suspend Tinker and her siblings for wearing black armbands in support of Kennedy’s rally to bring home troops from Vietnam
Soto 2(Wheeler). The Tinker case became a landmark example of how students’ right to free speech cannot be punished solely based upon the school’s political agenda. However, schools are permitted to act upon speech that is determined lewd or inappropriate on school grounds. An example of such can be seen in theBethel School District v. Fraser case. Fraser, who had nominated another student for a class position used several inappropriate and lewd references in his speech. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the school deciding that “the constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings.”(Bethel). It added that, “The freedom to advocate unpopular and controversial views in schools and classrooms must be balanced against society’s countervailing interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior.”(Bethel). In light of this case the school was granted the right to punish the speaker because the speaker because the speech was blatantly disruptive and detracted upon the overall message of electing a school officer. However, the Supreme Court’s decisions based upon the following Hazelwood case are often obscure and unevenly applied. In
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