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The first amendment provides an adequate “tent” to shelter “products made under the auspices of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, as it often times protects student’s views on moral values. Anything opposing such moral values will be left exposed, unprotected by the tent. Since the time of the Vietnam War, students have protested against schools for censoring their freedom of speech. Since 1998, there have been as many as 94 disciplinary cases in which students have sued schools over this controversial issue.
In many cases, the Supreme Court had been sympathetic with students, as their rights had been violated. However, with the rise in gang violence, drugs, and alcohol, the Supreme Court has shifted its sympathetic view towards schools more so than the student. In one Supreme Court case, Morse v. Frederick, a high school student had displayed a banner reading “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” during a school event. The student had not intentionally put up this sign to advocate illegal substance abuse, but had rather put it up for comical attention. The student claimed that his rights had been violated, however as much as he may not have intentionally advocated for drug use, his actions were considered immoral since they were done during a school event. It undermines the school’s purpose of educating its students, therefore conflicting with the safe environment a school is supposed to create. Since Frederick’s actions were considered immoral, his right to the freedom of speech was declared invalid in this case, and so the first amendment did not provide a tent to shelter the product of freedom of speech.
Another case is the Tinker v. Des Moines case where students wore black armbands in order to protest the Vietnam War. The Supreme Court sided with the students in this case since the students were performing a morally just act, one that did not disrupt classwork or invade the rights of others. The first amendment allowed the product of protest to be sheltered underneath the right to freedom of expression. All in all, students are allowed to express themselves in anyway excluding issues on violence and negative behavior. Schools should therefore promote positive behavior in order to ensure that the student’s right to freedom of speech is not broken.
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