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  1. #1
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    Default Censorship in Schools

    Hi, I go to High School in California, and I recently wore the following T-shirt to school:



    I wore it throughout the day, and about 10 minutes before the period was over in my chem class, my teacher suddenly started yelling at me, "Am I the first to be DISGUSTED by that T-shirt today?!". She then proceeded to sending me to the back of the class and having me flip it inside out, something I felt a little embarrassed about. I'm not the type of person to take their shirt off in public, even at the back of the class (many heads were turned). The next day, during the same period, a vice principal at my school had a little talk with me in which he told me all about how they have to make the learning environment great for everybody and that I can't wear that shirt.

    I know many would argue that this matter is too juvenile to argue about, but I believe strongly in freedom of speech. I also know it is limited in schools, but my question is how limited is it? Limited enough to prevent me from wearing that shirt? Additionally, if I censor the shirt(with masking tape or something) does that make a difference?

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    This is not a freedom of expression concern because you violated obscenity rules.

    If you wore a t-shirt with an upside down flag or picture of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, and Bush that's a statement the courts would protect Wearing a T-shirt that says "Go F___ yourself" violates other peoples rights and doesn't have any point.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    Student speech lacks protection if it is "vulgar," "lewd," or "indecent," whether or not it disrupts school operations. Bethel Sch. Dist. No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    Here is a decision handed down just a little over a year ago: "Bong hits4Jesus".

    It cites Tinker and also Knowitalls' case:

    Syllabus:


    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/06-278.ZS.html


    As you so rightly point out, student speech and freedom of expression are limited in the school environment.

    The schools actions were proper, and would never survive a constitutional challenge by you, state or federal.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    I see. So basically school has my freedom

    Hmm, well I felt pretty embarrassed when the teacher had me to flip the shirt inside out in the class room. This didn't help my needs for learning at all and only stressed me out. Is that a valid argument for anything(not to wear the shirt obviously)?

    And if I added to the shirt "Go F___ Yourself Gorge Bush" that would make it a political statement that would be what exactly? Ok? Easier to defend?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    People have a fundamental misunderstanding of what freedom of speech is.

    It doesn't mean you can say whatever you want, whenever you want, and never suffer consequences for it. Freedom of speech also means taking responsibility for your speech. It's a two way street.

    In the case of wearing a vulgar t-shirt to school, sure, you have the freedom to wear it. And you have the freedom to be told to turn it inside out, go home and change, or even be suspended for violating school policy.

    No, adding "George Bush" to the end of it will not make it easier to defend. It doesn't suddenly make it protected political speech - it just makes it a vulgar t-shirt with George Bush's name on it.

    Go to the link Bill posted and read the whole thing. That should explain it quite nicely for you.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    Quote Quoting sega18
    View Post
    I see. So basically school has my freedom

    Hmm, well I felt pretty embarrassed when the teacher had me to flip the shirt inside out in the class room. This didn't help my needs for learning at all and only stressed me out. Is that a valid argument for anything(not to wear the shirt obviously)?

    And if I added to the shirt "Go F___ Yourself Gorge Bush" that would make it a political statement that would be what exactly? Ok? Easier to defend?

    The 1st is content based, but in an educational institution, it is subject to greater scutiny.

    Speaking of Bush, I happen to remember this case from past 1st AM research. The ACLU filed suit on behalf of the student, they won in Federal court:


    DETROIT - In a victory for students' free speech rights, a federal judge has ruled that the Dearborn teenager who was prohibited from wearing a t-shirt with a picture of President Bush that reads, "International Terrorist" must be allowed to wear the shirt to school.


    http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/youth...s20031001.html

    Complaint:


    http://www.aclumich.org/modules.php?...ticle&artid=75

    They do not include the District court opinion here, and I do not know if it was appealed and or if was sustained or reversed.

    The F bomb, will never be acceptable on premises and or outside school related activites.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    Thanks a lot for the help. I get it.

    One more thing: what constitutes vulgarity or obscenity? I want to know what I CAN wear.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    Quote Quoting sega18
    View Post
    Thanks a lot for the help. I get it.

    One more thing: what constitutes vulgarity or obscenity? I want to know what I CAN wear.

    What may be permitted on a public street may not be permitted in the school zone, so this is a constitutionally ambiguous question.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Censorship in Schools

    Quote Quoting sega18
    View Post
    I want to know what I CAN wear.
    Now you're just being silly. Whatever happened to scroungy Metallica or Ozzy shirts and torn jeans? Fetch me my cane. Get off my lawn!

    Sheesh.

    Consult your Student Handbook. Most school districts publish one, and these typically outline dress policies.

    They're not going to define "lewd" or "obscene" for you, mind. Assume that any profanity is right out, as well as any alcohol or drug illustrations or references, any of those insipid "Coed Naked ___________" shirts, and anything portraying nudity.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

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