North Thurston Public Schools in Lacey, Washington, recently barred students from protesting on its campuses.

It is unclear from media reports whether the district has banned all protests, or only disruptive protests, and our inquiry to the district seeking clarification went unanswered. Any prohibition on protest which does not threaten to substantially disrupt the operations of the school would be a violation of students’ clearly established First Amendment rights.

More than fifty years ago, in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court established that students have the right to protest on school grounds, and that schools may not forbid such protests, nor punish students for engaging in such protests, unless the protests are conducted in a manner which threatens to substantially disrupt the activities of the school. That holding was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court just last year, in Mahanoy Area School District v. B. L.

See a guide to student protest rights here

Read NCAC’s letter to the District below. Click here for a full screen view: