In the case of Tinker v. Des Moines, the Supreme
Court of the United States ruled that student "speech" (expression)
could not be punished or stopped unless officials could prove the speech
would or did cause a substantial interference with the discipline
required for the operation of the school. However, at what level of
disruption must the school step in?
Read each example below and determine whether you think the student
expression described is potentially disruptive enough to be punished or
stopped by the school administration. There may not be conclusive
answers in terms of court precedent, but these instances should be used
as a springboard for discussion of what the Tinker case means for students.
Maggie and Sally come to school wearing new khaki pants. On the back
of the pants, where pockets usually are, the girls put patches of the
American flag. Therefore, when the girls sat down, they sat on the flag.
In order to protest the new cafeteria food offered at Valley High
School, the student government organizes a protest. During both lunch
periods, SGA officials plan to lead a walk-out from the cafeteria and a
group march to the local McDonalds.
Local gang members wear colored plastic bracelets on their wrists to declare their affiliation.
During a pep rally, a student leader uses very obscene language in a speech.
Atheists in your school decide they want to publicize and educate
others about their beliefs. To make their point, they begin wearing t-shirts that portray Jesus as a monster with three heads.