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Student Bill of Rights

Right 7

Free Expression

All students have the right to express themselves within an educational context.

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Let's Discuss

  • How do you define free expression?
  • Why is allowing students to have the right to free expression within schools important?
  • What are the consequences if students don’t have the right to free expression?
  • Does your school place any restrictions on free expression? Why?
  • Can restriction of free expression in schools ever be a good thing?When?
  • In what areas would you like to see changes in your school regarding free expression?
  • How can you work with your school to establish or encourage free expression for students?
  • Do actions or  opinions of the student body impact free expression for students in any way?
  • What does free expression in the classroom look like?
  • Do members of school faculty ever stifle free expressions of students in the classroom, whether intentionally or not?

Subtopic Ideas

Student journalism, student rights, security vs. freedom, censorship in school media, right to protest

More about free expression

Freedom Forum Institute’s “What Rights to Freedom of Expression Do Students Have”
“Public school students possess a range of free-expression rights under the First Amendment. Students can speak, write articles, assemble to form groups and even petition school officials on issues. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that students “do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
National Coalition Against Censorship’s “First Amendment in Schools: A Resource Guide”
“This document describes in practical terms what the right to freedom of expression means for the public schools. We hope it provides students, teachers and administrators with a deeper understanding of their constitutionally guaranteed rights and responsibilities, as well as renewed respect for the power of free expression to enhance the educational experience.”
So To Speak: The Free Speech Podcast’s “From Black Armbands to the US Supreme Court”
“Her journey started with wearing a black armband to school and proceeded to the landmark United States Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969). But it by no means stopped there: Mary Beth Tinker, namesake of the “Tinker” decision, continues to be a free speech icon."