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Momentous advances in free-speech law don't always involve historic acts of journalistic courage. Sometimes they start with something as tiny as a kid who doesn't want a haircut.
That's what led a Chicago-based federal appeals court to conclude that it can be unlawful gender discrimination to make male high-school athletes, but not female ones, wear their hair short.
In a 2-1 ruling issued in February, the federal Seventh Circuit decided that gender-based dress and grooming codes can violate both the federal Title IX gender discrimination statute as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In sending the case back for trial, the appeals court in Hayden v.
The justice system increasingly is being asked to intercede in unpleasant social interactions involving young people that, once upon a time, used to get settled through a stern lecture and a parental conference.
In Pennsylvania, police charged a 15-year-old with the crime of "disorderly conduct" for secretly recording students bullying him during school, a case that prosecutors recently withdrew after a public outcry.
And in Iowa, an Allamakee County high school student was hauled into juvenile court and adjudicated "delinquent," the equivalent to a conviction in adult criminal court, for insulting remarks ("you fat, skanky bitch") that she yelled at a rival student while exiting the school bus.
In a victory for judicial restraint, the Iowa student's case was overturned April 16 by the Iowa Court of Appeals, which reached the common-sense decision that not every upsetting remark can be criminalized as "harassment."
In its ruling, the Court of Appeals found that Iowa's criminal harassment statute -- which outlaws speech that is intended, without legitimate purpose, to "threaten, intimidate or alarm" -- cannot be violated by mere insults.
A federal appeals court allowed student plaintiffs to go forward with due process and First Amendment challenges to the state of Arizona's decision to eliminate "ethnic studies" courses from the K-12 curriculum. The court's 3-0 decision is remarkable for recognizing that students have a constitutionally protected right to receive information even in the classroom setting, a principle that may strengthen the hand of future student plaintiffs.
At Smith College, student activists banned reporters from covering their protest unless the reporters agreed to endorse their mission. Media bans have been common in the wave of protests sweeping college campuses.
Tim Tai, who was captured on a viral video defending his First Amendment rights against a no-media policy, was named the recipient of the First Amendment Defender Award.
2015 was a rollercoaster year for student media and First Amendment rights in schools. Review the year's highs and lows in the SPLC's recap post.
Students' First Amendment right to wear T-shirts with social or political statements is a fiercely disputed issue that regularly ends up in court. A new ruling from Tennessee adds to the consensus that speech on a T-shirt cannot be banned as "disruptive" just because it addresses an issue of social controversy such as LGBT rights.
A high school newspaper accused administrators of unlawfully picking students to serve on an advisory committee, instead of opening up the positions to a student election.
Student fees can't be withheld to punish student organizations for their political viewpoints, a federal appeals court rules, in a case that could benefit campus news outlets facing censorship-by-checkbook from their administrators.
Two years ago, I didn’t know the Student Press Law Center existed. I didn’t know there was a need.
The 90-year-old student paper, The Siskiyou, can continue to provide Southern Oregon University students news for at least another year.
Students at Florida's Valencia College who complained about being forced to serve as test subjects for vaginal ultrasound exams will get their day in court, after a three-judge federal appeals panel restored their First Amendment claim and sent the case back for trial.
Nobody -- including University of Kansas disciplinarians -- knows where the First Amendment boundary lines are drawn in cyberspace, so the university can't be held liable even if it overreacted in expelling a student for insulting remarks about his ex-girlfriend on Twitter, a federal district court says.
A Connecticut college student claims he was railroaded by a campus disciplinary board that expelled him for remarks about guns that he claimed were jokes. A judge threw out his claims -- but agreed that FERPA confidentiality should not have limited his access to key eyewitness statements.
State senators in Wyoming last week voted to indefinitely postpone a bill that would have given students a heightened sense of digital privacy.
The student newspaper at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown will keep its student government-allocated funding despite student-led efforts to eliminate the paper’s subsidies.
New Voices of Texas page asked for stories of censorship students and advisers have faced in the Longhorn State, and Rachel Dearinger responded.
Commentators say the nationally acclaimed reporting of high-school journalists aided by Kansas' Student Publications Act should convince legislators elsewhere to join the growing movement to protect the independence of school-produced journalism.
The SPLC's own Frank LoMonte joined free speech advocates and media experts for a discussion about student journalism, protests against controversial speakers and how attitudes of millennials are shaping free speech on college campuses.
A graduating senior at a New Jersey high school was suspended over submitting a yearbook photo that included controversial artwork.