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Answered: Student Expression

The First Amendment protects more than just spoken and written speech--it protects student expression of all kinds.

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Question | Student Expression

Can a school stop you from saying "God bless the United States" over the morning announcements?

The Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protects your expression. But, the First Amendment also has an Establishment Clause, which bars any government actor, like your public school, from promoting an establishment of religion. In general, schools have wide authority to shut down speech solely because it is religious. Whether they can shut down speech under the Establishment Clause or if it is protected under the Free Speech Clause depends on two questions: (1) whether the students hearing the message are a “captive audience,” and (2) whether the student’s statement constitutes religious speech.

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Question | Student Expression

Can a school make a student take off a hijab to compete in a sporting event?


I run cross country and one of my teammates wears a hijab. One time at a meet, a coach told her that she had to take it off if she wanted to compete. Can a school make her do that?

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Question | Student Expression

Can a male student get in trouble for wearing a dress to school?

There’s a student at my school who is biologically male, but the other day he wore a dress to school. No one had any issues with it except one teacher who started asking him questions and sent him to the principal. All of the students were confused why this was such a big deal. Can the school really discipline the student for wearing a dress?

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Question | Student Expression

Can a school ban pictures of students with guns?

Decisions about whether to publish a photo of a student with a gun must balance students’ constitutional rights with the school’s mission and responsibility to maintain a safe, non-disruptive school environment.

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Question | Student Expression

Can a school stop you from creating a memorial for a student suicide victim?

A school can stop you from doing that because the school is probably worried that the memorial could cause a substantial disruption in the school and interfere with learning. But there may be a more thoughtful way of commemorating the student that the school would be less likely to censor.

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