|6. Do public school students have a legal right to participate in the Day of Silence?||
participating in the Day of Silence also have a right of equal access to school
facilities. For example, if a school allows students to display posters on
campus about some events, it can’t prohibit this event’s posters based on their
viewpoint. That would violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and
in some cases, the Equal Access Act as well.10
Some administrators have argued that they need to prevent disruption. The courts are unconvinced. Lambda Legal explains, “schools can’t censor students just because other students might respond in a disruptive way. If students who disagree with a speaker’s ideas create a disruption, the school can punish the disruptive students but can’t punish the speaker.”11
As for getting advanced approval from the school, students generally don’t need to seek permission to participate in the Day of Silence by remaining silent during their free time at school. Still, many students find that they have a more successful event if they explain the Day of Silence ahead of time to teachers and administrators, who may not understand the event or know that students have a First Amendment right to participate. Moreover, in some school contexts – like the classroom – students have much more limited rights, as explained above, so seeking advance permission can be useful. There’s generally no constitutional right to refuse to answer a question in class.
10 See the Bill of Rights http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html. See also note 1.
11 For more information on the Day of Silence, go to www.lambdalegal.org/day-of-silence, and click on “frequently asked legal questions.”
|a.||Yes, in most circumstances. It’s a matter of freedom of speech YES!|
|b.||No, unless the school approves the event in advance.|
|c.||No, it’s a disruption of the school environment|