On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Brandi Levy and public school students’ speech rights, in the case Mahoney School Board v. Brandi Levy. In 2017, Levy, then a 14 year old high school student in Pennsylvania, tried out for her school’s varsity cheering squad. After not making the team, she vented her frustrations in a Snapchat video, where she flipped off the camera and dropped a few swearwords. The school, after seeing the video, subsequently suspended her from the junior varsity cheer squad, saying that her video and its message violated the cheerleading code of conduct. After failing to come to a resolution with the school, Levy and her parents sued, arguing that punishing her for off campus speech violated Levy’s First Amendment rights.
Students do not necessarily jump for joy if you tell them they will be learning about intellectual freedom and the First Amendment. However, many of these concepts are included in national and state-level learning and library standards and are important for them to learn about as citizens and future voters. Read more for ideas on how school librarians and teachers can actively engage teen learners in the critical thinking necessary to reach these learning goals.
Therefore, the erosion of any free speech case, particularly those involving the press or speech on educational campuses, raises concerns for the library profession. Free expression, free access, and resisting censorship are core principles of the library profession and the Library Bill of Rights.
Florida bill would make banning books easier; New Jersey lawmakers propose resolution asking schools not to teach ‘Huckleberry Finn’; In Y.A., where is the line between criticism and cancel culture?
Editorial: Book banning a slippery slope; Call for nominations: 2019 Freedom to Read Foundation Roll of Honor; To exhibit or not to exhibit? Privacy concerns and library exhibits
The critical work of journalists in a democratic society requires protecting freedom of expression. A free press cannot flourish where writers fear censorship or retaliation. How did you celebrate #StudentPressFreedom on Wednesday, January 30?