School-Sponsored Speech

School-Sponsored Speech

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9519-1.ch009


This chapter examines the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) case – the United States Supreme Court's third review of students' speech rights under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. It discusses the test created in the case for analyzing when schools can regulate students' speech. This test, referred to as the Hazelwood test (also known as the Kuhlmeier test) authorizes schools to censor school-sponsored student speech. The chapter discusses the Supreme Court's approach to student speech in the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) case. The ultimate goal of the chapter is to analyze the case in order to determine if it authorizes schools to censor students' speech while they are outside the schoolhouse gate.
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The United States Supreme Court first reviewed the authority of schools to censor student speech in school-sponsored media in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988). In this case, the Supreme Court created a new test that allows schools to constitutionally censor student speech: schools can censor all school-sponsored student speech if the school has a legitimate pedagogical reason for the censorship. While the facts of the case involved student speech in a school-sponsored publication, the Court expanded the reach of its decision to all school-sponsored activities. Continuing the trend that started with Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986), in Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, the Court reined in students’ free speech rights recognized in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969). Specifically, the Court created an entirely new category of student speech for schools to censor. Even though, factually, the case involved on-campus student speech, it could provide some insight on the Court’s inclination about off-campus student speech. We examine this case as well as the test next.

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