The Supreme Court's ruling in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. was a big victory for cheerleader Brandi Levy. Still, George Washington Law Professor and student speech expert Catherine J. Ross warns that the decision left unanswered many questions regarding school's authority to regulate off-campus speech.
In an 8-1 decision on June 23rd, the Supreme Court ruled that a student’s off-campus speech was protected by the First Amendment. The case, Mahanoy Area School District v B.L., involves a message posted on Snapchat by a then-14 year old student identified as “B.L.”, after she learned she failed to advance from the junior varsity to the varsity cheerleading squad. The message, posted on a Saturday afternoon when she was off-campus, stated, in part, “f*** cheer, f***everything.”
As the end of the current semester quickly approaches, First Amendment Watch and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education are already thinking ahead to this fall’s freshman orientation season on America’s college campuses. Use our latest orientation modules to talk about student press freedom and student's online speech rights.
In this module we discuss what students can expect when they speak online, as well as how they can respond productively and effectively to views they find distasteful. We also discuss the proper role of college administrators, who can be a resource for students to help guide discussion, without engaging in restrictive practices and censorship.
Choose from a selection of fiction and non-fiction titles with free expression themes. This reading list is great for administrators looking to assign summer reading, faculty members building syllabi, and student reading groups.
Student journalists and publications play a vital role in informing their fellow students about campus events, serving as a check on their school’s administration, and uncovering stories that outside media might miss. Use this module to understand student journalist’s rights and their limitations.
Does the First Amendment apply to private schools? Can universities create policies that regulate student speech? Is hate speech a form of harassment? We created this module to answer basic and frequently asked questions students have about free speech on campus.
On January 8th, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a high school student who was suspended from her cheerleading team for a Snapchat selfie she made after school hours. The lower courts are currently split as to whether a school can discipline off-campus speech that is substantially disruptive and closesly linked to school.