How do schools resolve the tension between freedom of speech and the need for discipline and control?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Preserving the speech rights of students and maintaining the integrity of public education are not mutually exclusive. Schools should model First Amendment principles by encouraging and supporting the rights of students to express their ideas in writings. On the other hand, students should not expect to have unfettered access to their classmates and should be prepared to abide by reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.

Schools must continue to maintain order, discipline and the educational mission of the school as they seek to accommodate the rights of the students. As a result, the free-speech rights of students are not co-extensive with the rights of adults. Hate speech and sexually explicit speech, though protected for adults, are probably not protected in a public school.