Forecasting Disruption, Forfeiting Speech: Restrictions on Student Speech in Extracurricular Activities
40 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 18, 2011
Student speech in extracurricular activities occupies a doctrinal position between curricular speech and individual speech. Outside the narrow factual situations governed by Bethel v. Fraser and Morse v. Frederick, courts tend to treat extracurricular student speech either as curriculum-like, school-sponsored speech under Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, when the activities are inherently expressive, or as individual speech under Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District. Applying Tinker's "forecast" of disruption standard to student speech in extracurricular activities, particularly when supported by analogies to public employee speech, has a chilling effect that conditions student participation in extracurricular activities on a reduced speech right. This result contradicts the educational goals of extracurricular activities and public schools. This Note proposes requiring that school officials using a "forecast" of disruption to punish student speech must connect the speech restriction to the educational goal of the particular extracurricular activity.
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