The National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of over 50 national non-profit organizations, has advocated for the free speech rights of students, artists, teachers and librarians for over 45 years. NCAC is now offering teachers who are teaching remotely the opportunity to host virtual classroom presentations on free speech and the First Amendment by guest speakers from our staff of experts.

Our sessions are interactive, offering a presentation of principles and relevant case examples and then asking students to examine how they would apply First Amendment principles to specific situations.

Each session can be tailored to the needs of individual teachers, classrooms and levels of instruction (including specific content for AP Government classes), and teachers will be given the opportunity to review the content, offer feedback and request changes before presentations are delivered in the classroom.

For more information or to schedule a session, please contact Gordon Danning at gordon@ncac.org.

Session topics include:

Free Speech Fundamentals Virtual Classroom Can the President stop the publication of a book that he claims represents him unfairly?
Can a person be arrested for calling for the overthrow of government, or for staging a political protest at the funeral of a soldier?
This session covers the basic principles of freedom of speech, including:

  1. What is considered “speech”?
  2. What types of speech are not protected by the First Amendment?
  3. When can the government tell you what to say or how to say it?
  4. Basic principles of students’ right to free speech.
Student Speech Rights Virtual Classroom Do students have to recite the Pledge of Allegiance?
Can students wear a Confederate flag t-shirt to school, or a t-shirt advocating drug use?
This session covers the major Supreme Court cases on student speech (including student protest in and out of school), as well as cases on key issues that the Supreme Court has not yet decided, especially the extent to which schools can punish students for off-campus speech.
Symbolic Speech

This session is designed for AP Government class, and is meant to address Essential Knowledge LOR-2.C.2 of Unit Three of the course description effective Fall 2019.

Although the First Amendment explicitly refers to freedom of “speech,” the Supreme Court has held that it protects many actions which do not involve literal speaking but which nevertheless send a message.

This session discusses several examples of non-verbal and “symbolic” speech and expressive conduct, including artwork, film, clothing, and actions such as flag burning and kneeling during the National Anthem.

History of Free Speech Rights in the US The United States protects free speech to a much greater extent than almost every other country, including other liberal democracies. But this is a result of a long process of social and legal debate.

This session will tell the stories of several landmark cases that have determined the breadth of free speech protections in the U.S., such as New York Times v. Sullivan, which established the right of the press to criticize public officials, Tinker v. Des Moines, which affirmed students’ First Amendment Rights in school, and Brandenburg v. Ohio, which set the limits to what constituted incitement to violence, among others.

Offensive Speech Virtual Classroom Is it possible to ban hurtful racist remarks in school or in a public space?
Can Facebook ban such remarks from its platform?
What about the right of a school to suspend a student for wearing a T-shirt condemning homosexuality as a sin?
This session discusses the protections which the Constitution provides to speech which some people find offensive, as well as the meaning of “hate speech.” The session also discusses rules concerning “offensive” and “hateful” speech in the school setting.
Limits on Free Speech

This session is designed for AP Government class, and is meant to address Essential Knowledge LOR-2.C.3 of Unit Three of the course description effective Fall 2019.

Not all speech is protected, even in the United States. This session discusses the principles underlying limits on free speech and examines key doctrines such as the “clear and present danger” test; time, place, and manner restrictions on protest, and legal battles over what constitutes defamation, as well as debates over the limits of sexually explicit material.

For more information or to schedule a session, please contact Gordon Danning at gordon@ncac.org.

Header graphic: American Flag Photo by Nate Pesce and the Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office is licensed under CC BY 2.0