Does your state still require you to say the Pledge of Allegeiance?
According to the Supreme Court deicsion WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION V. BARNETTE (1943) (see below in "lawsuits worth knowing about") it is unconstitutional to make students recite the pledge of allegiance. However, some states still have statutes that require students participate in the pledge at school. Is yours one of them?
Check here to find out: Pledge of Allegiance Statutes, State by State (First Amendment Center)
My School Paper has been censored, what do I do? Check out the Student Press Law Center’s Virtual Lawyer at http://www.splc.org/virtual_lawyer/ for free legal advice.
What Supreme Court cases relate to schools and youth?
TINKER v. DES MOINES SCHOOL DISTRICT (1969): After 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker, her 15-year-old brother John, and Christopher Eckhardt, age 16, got suspended from school for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War, they challenged the suspensions in a federal court. In announcing that neither students nor teachers "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate" the Supreme Court guaranteed students the right to free expression in school.
WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION V. BARNETTE (1943): Noting "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us," the Supreme Court ruled that students have the right to refuse to salute the flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
BOARD OF EDUCATION, ISLAND TREES SCHOOL DISTRICT V. PICO (1982): Despite a Board of Education’s claims that certain books were "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Sem[i]tic, and just plain filthy," the Supreme Court determined that school authorities could not remove books from libraries for "partisan" or ideological reasons. "…just as access to ideas makes it possible for citizens generally to exercise their rights of free speech and press in a meaningful manner, such access prepares students for active and effective participation in the pluralistic, often contentious society in which they will soon be adult members," the Court wrote.
HAZELWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT V. KUHLMEIER (1988): While noting that "….public educators must accommodate some student expression even if it offends them or offers views or values that contradict those the school wishes to inculcate," the Supreme Court determined that if school papers are a curricular activity, school officials have leeway to censor certain topics as long as they do so for "legitimate pedagogical" reasons. (The decision did not, however, address independent student publications.)
ENGEL V. VITALE (1962): The Supreme Court decision that outlawed school prayer by ruling that "….state officials may not compose an official state prayer and require that it be recited in the public schools of the State at the beginning of each school day – even if the prayer is denominationally neutral and pupils who wish to do so may remain silent or be excused from the room while the prayer is being recited."
BETHEL SCHOOL DISTRICT V. FRASER (1986): The Supreme Court case that decided school authorities were within their rights in punishing a student for delivering a speech punctuated with sexual puns at a student government assembly.