Forging the Path Forward from Censorship

Forging the Path Forward from Censorship

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9519-1.ch016


This chapter presents the conclusions to the book. It discusses ideas for the future of the off-campus student-speech jurisprudence. This discussion includes guidance for school officials and students on how to navigate the jurisprudence. The discussion urges school officials to exercise censorship restraint when confronted with off-campus student speech unless the speech constitutes a true threat. It also implores school officials and lower courts to treat students as citizens entitled to the right to free speech under the United States Constitution. Consonantly, the chapter recommends that school officials leave censorship of off-campus speech to law enforcement as well as the civil and criminal judicial processes as obtains for the citizenry at large. The goal of the chapter is to recommend ideas that students, school officials and lower courts can consider in order to minimize the abridgement of students' right to speech in off-campus settings.
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This chapter is designed to provide recommendations for navigating the off-campus student-speech jurisprudence. It argues that school officials should not censor off-campus student speech if the speech does not constitute a true threat. Additionally, censorship of off-campus student speech should be left to the jurisdiction of law enforcement, parents and the judiciary. The chapter also argues that lower courts should arrest the current jurisprudence’s inclination toward censorship in order to preserve the opportunity for students to develop as active participants in our constitutional democracy. Further, it argues that, once students exit the schoolhouse gate, they should be treated as part of the citizenry entitled to First Amendment protection under the United States Constitution. It also argues that, in light of the unsettled and inconsistent nature of the off-campus student-speech jurisprudence, school officials should be precluded from making censorship decisions about off-campus speech since they are not schooled in First Amendment niceties. Instead, schools should educate students on the civil use of speech and adopt policies that are protective of students’ rights to speak off-campus. The chapter also discusses the Erase Bill in California as an opportunity for students to avoid school censorship.

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