Students Freedom of Speech in School

The First Amendment states that all citizens of the U. S have freedom of religion, petition, assembly, press, and speech. The First Amendment was written and adopted for over two hundred years of American History. Throughout this period people have questioned the extent of freedom that they were given through the First Amendment.

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The freedom of speech is probably the most misunderstood of all the five components in that the freedom of speech has been altered through many times in court.

The U. S government has altered the freedom of speech many times in court, whether it be expanding the rights that were given with the freedom of speech or diminishing the power of it and thus prohibiting people from saying what the government deems as harmful and disruptive to others around them. With the freedom of speech so questioned and confusing to even the general public it is no wonder that when the freedom was put into a public school setting with a bunch of adolescence and kids the topic becomes a hot spot for debating whether students should have the full extent of the protection from the First Amendment.

In a public school setting which is own by the state government the students are promise to have their rights as citizens of the U. S protected to the full extent of the law as stated “students in school as well as out of school are ‘persons’ under our Constitution” (U. S Supreme Court) . Some people agree with the judgment that students are considered U.

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S citizens and because they are in a public area the students should enjoy the full extent of the rights that were given to them as U. S citizens like any other people, however there is always two sides of a the same coin and thus some suggest to restraint the rights of students to an extent because of the belief that students are not fully grown adults and thus do not have the rationality to use their rights correctly.

One of the most debating topics of students in public school would be the freedom of speech that was given to them. Some people belief that students are citizens of U. S and should have the full extent of the freedom of speech given to them, while others belief that students do not have a complete rationality like adults and thus will use their freedom of speech in a wrong way and thus students should be restrain to an certain extent of the rights. Hearing from the two sides with each side having reasons for which they belief in, the question of whether or not students should have full protection of the First Amendment for freedom of speech in a public school is ask and debated constantly.

One key side of the opinion in which supported the idea of students having complete freedom of speech in school stated that students are U. S citizens and thus should have the same right as any other people alike as stated “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights rot freedom of speech or expression as the schoolhouse gate” (Tinker v. Des Moines School District).

In public school cases with the freedom of speech being the issue of the trial the court rule that unless what the student said causes any disturbance in the school or those around them the school are not allow to punish them on the issue in which was spoken or express. One of the greatest examples of students winning against the public school in trials would be the famous supreme case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, in this Supreme Court case “the school officials could point to no evidence that the wearing of armbands would disrupt the school environment” (faqs).

From Tinker v. Des Moines ruling the court stated that school officials may not silence student’s expression and speech on an issue just because they dislike it. Fig. 1 Allison Edge, Suspension Cartoon 1 (Cartoon Stock. 9 Dec. 2012. ) In a public school it can be said that a new generation of thoughts begins there. In school settings students learn about their rights and responsibilities, what they can do and cannot because of society’s belief in a subject. Students learn their Bills of Rights as early as in their fifth grade where teachers basically explain to them their rights as U. S citizens, so with the teachings of the Amendments from the teachers to the students as early as that it would be a total contradiction to not allow the students to learn about the Amendments and yet not be able to wield the power that they were promise to have around in school as stated “It would be the height of contradiction to teach about the First Amendment and then not follow it” (Darden Edwin C).

The school system would be a complete hypocrite if they were to just tell students about their rights but not allow the students to express and speak their rights. (See fig. ) In figure 1 political cartoon it can be seen that the boy was suspended because he brought a copy of Bill of Rights to school, this shows the contradiction of school teaching students about the Bill of Rights but, at the same time condemn the students for using it. Despite the many positive view points of students having complete freedom of speech in school, it can be hardly argue that there are many drawbacks from the idea. Students in public school are still adolescence which many people view as still consider immature and irresponsible to themselves and others around them.

In school settings it can be said that “Learning is more important in the classroom than free speech” (Hudson David L. ). The general purpose of school is to teach students about the world and prepare them for the future, and with the students being allow to say whatever they deem as right in school like cursing at a teacher or saying something that will make other students follow in bad behaviors, not only will this disrupt the school environment but also influence others around them. In the Supreme Court case Bethel School District v.

Fraser the court deemed that the school did not violate the First Amendment by suspending Matthew Fraser for his speech filled with sexual innuendoes, the speech over intercom expose the students with vague language and thus was considering disruption of school as stated “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” (faqs).

From the Supreme Court case over Fraser it can be seem that not every students use their First Amendment right of freedom of speech in school appropriately. Hearing the opinions of the two sides of the argument of whether or not students should or should not have the full protection of the freedom of speech it is reasonable to say that both side makes a valid point of each of their arguments and stated “our problem lies in the area where students in the exercise of First Amendment rights collide with the rules of school authorities” (Hudson David L. ).

Both side of the argument whether support or against the idea of full protection of students for freedom of speech have a general point in that both agree that students can say what they like as long as it doesn’t harm or disrupts others around them and also that whatever the students say during the use of freedom of speech they are responsible for their words and expression of ideas just like the rest of U. S citizens. If two sides of an argument are able to come to a general agreement on the issue then it is possible to make a compromise of student’s freedom of speech in school.

The compromise of the issue can be student lead debates and creating certain areas in school which allows the students to freely express their ideas and thoughts on an issue without the eyes of authorities watching them. Students most of the time get in trouble for the freedom of speech because they are expressing their ideas on an issue that the school deems to be inappropriate. The public school is able to punish the students because when students are expressing their ideas it sometimes causes disruption to those around them and may expose others around them to a dangerous topic.

By using public or private debates in school on an issue students are able to express their thoughts and ideas with given times to correct their facts together to support them on the issue that they expressing. With public debates it is possible to allow students and staffs to hear the ideas of the students and those that oppose them on the issue and through the debate the students will be able to pick what they belief in as right and support the side that they agree with.

With the U. S being a democratic country it should be reasonable enough to agree that debates allows the students or staff to express their ideas and gain support from the audience that hears them thus eliminating what the court and school considers a “disruption” since a debate is civilized and also educational to those that are willing to speak out and those that are willing to listen. The debates of the two sides that support and oppose the freedom of speech in public school have a general point of concentration on the issue and that is that students are using their freedom of speech in school.

With schools being the place of learning for many students it is understandable that both the parents of the students and staffs that cares for the education of the students will have collision even though both just wanted the best for the students, with most of the staff putting education as their top priory while parents put their sons or daughters rights and happiness as theirs. In order to secure student’s right of freedom of speech in public school while at the ame time not offending those that put education, safety and order as their top priory one of the ways to satisfy both sides is to acquire an area in the school that allows the students to express what they want without having the authorities around them to watch what they say. By acquiring an area where students are able to express themselves fully students will be satisfy with their rights of freedom of speech being granted in public school thus allowing the moral of the students to rise and their dissatisfaction to drop.

The authorities in school can make it so that only certain amounts of students are only allow to enter the area at a certain time, or having the times when the students are allow to enter the area, like after school. By putting restrictions on the area with amounts of students and the time which they are allow to enter it will put the students in order while at the same eliminating the so called disruptions that students will cause during class and the general times in school setting.

The biggest fear of staffs in school is that what a student says will cause a ripple effect that might disrupt the school setting and thus diminish the time and ability of other students to learn, which the main goal of the school educational system is. The biggest fear of students and parents is that with school able to punish a student for his or her right of freedom of speech this will that only decrease the morale of the students making them think that they have no rights what so ever in a public area but at the same time making the students think that they are lock up in school with no freedom attach to them.

Understanding the two sides of the view the best conclusion of the topic of whether students should or should not have the full protection of freedom of speech in school comes to that students can speak their mind on issues if it will bring about a positive change to the mindset of others around them on the topic. Whether it be drugs, wars, or sexual contents as long as the students are able to provide facts that support their side of the argument and thus gaining support from the majority of others around them then it can be consider that the students brought about a positive change of the mindset to others.

Updated: Aug 22, 2022
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Students Freedom of Speech in School. (2016, Sep 10). Retrieved from

Students Freedom of Speech in School essay
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