It’s My Voice and I Can Use It Now!

Katelyn Benoit, Author

By: Katelyn Benoit

“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”

-Henry Louis Gates Jr. 

Schools have different rules for how students can express their views whether it’s through clothing, flyers, or the words they use. Does the First Amendment apply fully in schools without any secondary rules? 

Out of 11,998 students ranging from 31 public and private schools nationwide, 91% agreed that “people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions”. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression at the school gate”.  Unfortunately for students who attend private school, the First Amendment does not protect these students. Private schools make their own set of rules. This is due to the fact that they don’t belong to public-school board of education.  

In school, you have the right to speak, hand out flyers, start a petition, and wear expressive clothing. If you don’t violate their policies, you are fine. Courts have upheld students’ rights to wear an armband opposing the right to get an abortion, an anti-war armband, and a shirt supporting the LGBTQ community. 

Social media can be an influence on our opinions. You have the right to speak your mind on social media. Your school cannot punish you for the things you post outside of school that does not relate to school. If it doesn’t affect anyone or is being used to bully others, you have the right to express your opinions.  

Schools should let students speak out on topics like these more often. Even though you are in school with set rules, you should be able to still have your rights in the school. Freedom of speech should most definitely be allowed in school because it gives students a sense of power in what they are speaking about. They could be passionate about that topic and you are going to censor the student body?