Power to the students



While walking through an airport, you hear someone shout “BOMB! Everybody down!” You are terrified and do not know what to do. Security guards are scattered and the individual who shouted goes into custody and is interrogated. Restricting first amendment rights, including freedom of speech, is a good decision in that scenario. There are cases of limiting first amendment rights that go unspoken.

“I just censored a kid today; he did a really nice job on an assignment, but there was a picture of a gun on it,” Social Studies teacher Beth Lawrie-Smith said. “I have to censor that one, because it could be taken the wrong way by administrators.”

Censoring is omitting specific parts of speech or writing. Censoring a student’s work is a typical case of censorship that is not destructive.

“I know that there are several supreme court cases that basically have determined that a student’s right can be limited if the school feels like the other student’s right to learn is being violated, so any kind of distraction,” senior Max Toll said.

Students can share some of their opinions under Supreme Court cases like Tinker v. Des Moines, but the expression of their opinion cannot interfere with the learning environment or safety of other students. Tinker v. Des Moines involved students wearing black armbands at school to protest the Vietnam War, the principal said students would be suspended if they wore the arm bands.

“I think that the administrators generally come out from the angle of what actions would look like from an outside media perspective,” junior Amelia Hitchingham said.

School Administrators want to show off the best of their school, so they censor some things that are questionable to censor. Supreme Court cases including Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier restrict students’ rights and support the administrators. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier was a case involving school administrators censoring two stories in a school newspaper about teen pregnancy and divorce.

“Our administrators can definitely be a little harsh, but that doesn't mean what they are doing isn’t fair or unreasonable,” Toll said.

School administrators are supposed to be strict, but also helpful to the student body.

“They try to make it a peaceful environment with little controversy, so they keep students quiet,” senior Emmah Bashir said. “Everyone has a right to express who they are and what they believe in.”

Students across the country want to share their views, but some school administrators censor important information that the school community could benefit from hearing.

“Maybe students expressing their views isn’t always going to be legal, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it,” Toll said.

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