Imagine something happens at school that upsets you: Maybe a teacher gave you a less-than-stellar grade or you didn’t get the part you wanted or your coach benched you for the long-awaited semifinal game. So you take to social media to rant.
From your bedroom, you record a storytime video lamenting what happened. It gets kind of heated (maybe a couple four-letter words come out) but whatever, you’re just speaking your mind, right? And then you hit post.
The next morning, your video goes viral… in a not-so-good way. It spreads across your whole school, finally making its way into the hands of administrators. They decide to punish you for causing a “disruption.”
Suddenly, you feel like a YouTuber apologizing for some bad joke you tweeted. Except you’re not a celebrity, you’re a student—and it’s not your fans who are trying to cancel you, it’s your school.
This isn’t just a hypothetical: A similar story actually happened to former high school cheerleader Brandi Levy, who was 14 when she got suspended from her JV cheer squad after posting a profanity-laced Snapchat, complaining about not making varsity.
Levy and her parents thought the school went too far and decided to take legal action. Fast-forward four years later to this past summer when the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, whose job was to decide: Can your school cancel you for what you say *off* campus?
FREE SPEECH, EXPLAINED
“Freedom of speech” is an American right according to the Constitution’s First Amendment. And though it may sound like a pretty straightforward concept, it’s actually somewhat hazy, especially for students. In broad strokes, free speech entitles U.S. citizens to express themselves without fear of governmental punishment or intervention.
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