The Supreme Court is hearing a case involving schools and free speech. The case was brought by a cheerleader who was suspended from her cheerleading team. She did not make the varsity team and posted a photo of herself and a friend online flipping the bird to the camera with the caption” Fuck school, Fuck softball, Fuck cheer, Fuck everything.” The school deemed her post “disruptive to cheerleader morale” and she was suspended from the team. The post was made while she was not at school. The questions: Did the suspension violate her right to free speech? Can schools punish kids students for online but off-campus speech?
Was her free speech violated? There was a case in 1969 that decided students have First Amendment rights at school unless school officials reasonably think it will cause disruption at school. I don’t think this qualifies under those requirements. If a student posting Fuck School online qualifies as a reasonable cause of disruption at school, students across the country are at risk to be suspended. Is it really disruptive to “cheerleader morale” for a girl to vent her frustration at not making varsity? Does someone saying “Fuck cheerleading” really disrupt morale so much that it warrants being suspended? Is this really the type of disruption the Tinker case was speaking to? It sees like a very harsh punishment for no real crime. The speech was not meant to cause protest or disruption at school. It was just a girl venting her frustration at not making a team. I think it would have been better for the school to stay out if it and for the cheer coach to make her run laps.
Can schools punish kids for online but off-campus speech? I don’t think so. I think there should be consequences if a student is bullying or posting threats online. I just don’t think the school should be involved. Once you are off school grounds, you are no longer under the authority of the school. You are under the authority of your parent/guardian. Bullying and threats online would be under the authority of law enforcement, not school administrators. School should not have this much control over a student’s life. Students need to be able to express themselves freely at home and online without worrying about being suspended from school because a teacher was offended by the speech and deems it “disruptive”. If the Supreme Court decides that this minor offense meets that standard schools will be able to suspend any student who says anything negative about school anywhere. That is a dangerous precedent to set.
What do you think?
Was her free speech violated?
Should schools be able to punish kids for things they say/post online?