Politician Recognizes That Students Deserve Free Speech Rights Too
from the free-speech-is-good dept
There have been a number of cases recently concerning students getting punished for writing mean things about teachers or school administrators on social networking sites or blogs. In the past, there was a pretty clear legal line in terms of what was and what was not allowed: if the speech took place on campus, the school had the right to do something about it. If it took place off campus, it was the student’s free speech rights. However, some courts have begun to change that bright line, by saying that since internet sites can be reached from the school, schools now have the right to punish students for things they say online. This has numerous troubling implications when it comes to basic free speech.
Amazingly, there appear to be some politicians who actually recognize this. Up in Connecticut, where a 16-year-old girl was disciplined for calling school administrators “douche bags” on her blog, state Senator Gary LeBeau is actually proposing a law that would protect student free speech in such cases. Even more impressive, LeBeau was a teacher for 35-years, so he certainly understands where teachers and administrators are coming from — but he says that the free speech issue is more important. He says that it’s not right that a school should be able to interfere with a student’s conversations. Not surprisingly, the National School Boards Association is fighting against the bill, and it would be surprising if it got enough support to pass — but it’s nice to know at least one politician out there recognizes a student’s right to speak their mind from home.