Rules for Polite Political Discourse in The Classroom
1. Your right to free speech does not mean everyone must agree with you.
2. Do not shout.
3. Do not interrupt or speak over others.
4. Avoid generalities and stereotypes. Statements that begin with "Everyone..." or "All [group of people]..." are usually wrong.
5. It is okay to say you disagree with a point of view or opinion, and to give evidence that supports your opinion. It is not okay to personally attack the person who made the statement.
6. Do not insult a person's physical appearance or another aspect of their self because you disagree with something they have said or done.
7. Slurs and obscenities are not allowed in this classroom. Bethel School District v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
8. Statements that advocate violence toward any individual or group of people are not protected by the First Amendment. Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).
9. Students do have a right to free speech. However, a classroom is considered a closed forum, which means free speech may be limited at times when a conversation disrupts our ability to have an orderly and effective educational experience. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
10. This is my classroom, and my classroom is intended to be a safe space for individuals of any race, religion, creed, sexuality, gender identity, national origin, or ability. If I ever do not respond to something said or done in my classroom that is offensive or hurtful to you (or if I say or do something myself), please speak to me at a time when you feel comfortable. I would like to learn and improve.
Sources and Suggested Reading:
"Free speech and public schools." Center for Public Education. National School Boards Association, 5 Apr. 2006. Web. 09 July 2017. <http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Public-education/The-law-and-its-influence-on-public-school-districts-An-overview/Free-speech-and-public-schools.html>
Greenhouse, Linda. "Justices Won't Hear Student Who Sought to Write on Jesus." New York Times. The New York Times Company, 27 Nov. 1995. Web. 09 July 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/1995/11/28/us/justices-won-t-hear-student-who-sought-to-write-on-jesus.html>.
Jacobs, Tom. "10 Supreme Court Cases Every Teen Should Know." New York TImes Learning Network. The New York Times Company, 15 Sept. 2008. Web. 09 July 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/featured_articles/20080915monday.html>
"What Does Free Speech Mean?" United States Courts. U.S. Government, n.d. Web. 09 July 2017. <http://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/about-educational-outreach/activity-resources/what-does>.