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What Does Free Speech Look Like in School Header Image
Debate Comparison

Exercising Free Speech in Schools

Students attend school in order to learn and become good citizens of their communities. Sometimes these lessons and students' First Amendment rights come into conflict, like when Jehovah's Witnesses are required to salute the flag in the 1940s, or when a student is suspended for a banner in 2002.

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Duration
60-90 minutes
Topic(s)
  • Protests
  • Religious Liberty
  • Supreme Court
  • World War II
Grade(s)
  • 7-12
  • College/University

You're Exploring Free Speech Essentials

What does free speech look like in school?

HISTORICAL ORIGINS
Young Students Salute U.S. Flag, 1943 teaser
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1942: Protesting the Pledge

When West Virginia begins requiring students to participate in pledging allegiance to the flag in 1942, Gathie and Marie Barnett refuse for religious reasons, leading to a landmark Supreme Court decision.

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CONTEMPORARY CONSIDERATIONS

2002: Making a Scene at a School Event

Joseph Frederick is suspended from school when he holds up a banner saying, "Bong Hits for Jesus" during a school-sponsored event in 2002, sparking new debate about student speech rights.

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