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tv   Students First Amendment Rights  CSPAN  March 13, 2018 8:01pm-9:03pm EDT

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congressman mike thompson talks about gun violence prevention legislation in congress. then florida republican representative francis rooney on skekt rex tillerson's firing. and a discussion on russian efforts to interfere in u.s. and european elections with laura ros rosenberger. live, wednesday at 7:00 eastern. join the discussion. >> now a forum on gun violence and student demonstrations across the nation following the deadly high school shooting in parkland, florida. we'll hear from free speech advocate mary beth tinker. this event was hosted by the
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ne newseum. >> welcome. we're so excited to see you. i got to speak to some of you beforehand. i'm with nuwseum education. we're so happy you could join our first program here today. a question and answer with mary beth tinker. i'm going to click on because in addition to mary beth, who i have with me, i also have lana, the executive director of the my -- i half north broward preparatory school, st. john's universities, marco island charter middle school and central dolphin east high school. for all the teachers and students joining us through the livestream from across the country, we're so excited to have you here today. i want to give a special shout out to beaver local high school in ohio who voluntarily gave up their lunch break to be able to watch this. so a special thank you to you. so we're going to jump right in to the program today.
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what are we going to be going over? well, we'll give you a short introduction to the first amendment, and then i'm going to turn it over and we'll talk about what are some limits to the first amendment and we'll look into a very famous court case with the firsthand perspective on it on what it means to students. then we're going to wrap it up and turn it over to you to ask us questions about the first amendment and how it works for you and in schools and things you might want to be -- know about. so how many of you feel like you can name all five freedoms of the first amendment off the top of your head? raise your hand if you think you can do all five off the top of your head. all right. we've got some confident souls. don't worry, i'm not going to give you a pop quiz on it, i promise, but let's look at it. so first amendment of the u.s. constitution gives everyone in america these five freedoms with which they can express themselves. and you see them on the screens here. they're highlighted in pink to
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stand out. what we see is it gives us the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble and the freedom to petition. so we have this right to believe what we want, express ourselves through speech and press, gather with people and ask our government for changes. and we always have to think about the first amendment in that it applies to the government. so when we see that very first line, congress shall make no law, it means congress and the states and government organizations won't limit these freedoms in public spaces. but i have to ask a question, are there limits to the first amendment? lana, can i turn this over to you? >> there are a few limits here and there. i think any freedom that we have as americans is very important but nothing is completely unlimited. so with the first amendment, there are a few exceptions they carve out for free speech. first of all, if you use your speech to threaten someone's life, and truly threaten someone's life not the usual i'm
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just going to kill my little brother for that, but if you actually mean it, that isn't protected by the first amendment. if you use your speech to incite immediate violence, that's not protected. those things are both still crimes. you also are not protected if you use your speech to say something false about someone that damages their reputation or if you take someone else's writing or words and pass them off as your own. you're not going to go to jail for those things, but those are things you can be sued for. so those are all things that while free speech is protected and the government is usually not allowed to censor you or punish you for your speech, we've carved out a few things, no, i'm sorry, the protection doesn't apply. threatening someone's life is harmful so there are a few things that are not protected. >> excellent. when we think about this, and we have to think about it, what does it mean for schools?
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i want to turn over to someone when they were a student used the first amendment to advocate for changes they wanted to see and it culminates in the supreme court case you see here on the screen. so i am going to figuratively and literally turn this over to you, mary beth tinker. >> thank you. so good to be here at the newseum with all of you. what a time it is for the first amendment. for free speech. and for students. it's mighty times, as a student told me recently. do you agree? do you think so? come on, let's hear it. let's hear it for the mighty times. just like the times i grew up, mighty times are here again. so much going on. so many people speaking and up standing up and using the first amendment to do that. is the first amendment for kids? yes. yes, it is for kids. there are limitations to it, as l lana said, but there are limitations for adults as well. i just hit this? okay.
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thank you. okay, so i was growing up in iowa and i didn't know about the first amendment. i didn't know about the first amendment rights that i had. i just liked to go to slumber parties and celebrate birthdays. that's me on the right and my little sister hope. we were living pretty ordinary times in those mighty times. all going on at the same time. and one day we saw the most amazing children on tv. this is not them. can i go back here by any chance? >> i got it. there we go. >> is there birmingham in here? >> further ahead. >> further ahead. okay. i'm going to show you some kids that i -- oh, yes, these children were just -- well, i don't see them but i'm going to come back. just go back? okay. there were kids in birmingham, alabama, in the birmingham children's crusade and that
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year, 1963, i saw them on the news, on tv with my sister iowa. we were watching the news. it's really a story of journalism so i'm glad we're at the newseum. they were standing up against sell ga segregation and standing up to the ku klux klan. it was called bombingham because the ku klux klan bombed so many churches there. the kids said we will stand up, we will speak up and they came marching out of their 16th street baptist headquarters singing songs like ♪ this little light of mine i'm going to let it shine ♪ . they were singing and marches as kids have throughout history. there were terrorists, yes, as i sid -- let me see if i can find that one. there they were. the ku klux klan was ready for the kids. and to punish the children on
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sunday morning that year, 1963, september 15th, they put a bomb in their church knowing that the kids would be in sunday school. almost 2,000 kids had participated in the children's crusade that year in birmingham and martin luther king called it the turning point of the civil rights movement. that's the power of young people. maybe that's why the ku klux klan didn't like the little children and maybe that's why they planted a bomb in their church on sunday morning, september 15th. and sure enough four little girls were killed. their charred bodies were found in the stairwell of the church, cynthia, addie may, carol and denise. they were about the same ages as my sister and me growing up in iowa. i saw this on the news. someone came by a picnic we were at after church. my dad was a methodist preacher. we also got involved with the quakers. it was sunday.
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we were at a picnic when somebody came by to tell us how the ku klux klan had punished the little kids who dared to stand up for democracy, who dared to stand up for love and for equality and all of those democratic ideals. i thought those kids were so amazing. cynthia, addie may, carol and denise. now there are memorials built to these children in birmingham. there is an entire park dedicated to them. the statues of the brave birmingham kids. i think of them kind of like the black lives matter children of 1963. and these kids weren't popular with some people, just like black lives matter is not popular with some people. but that didn't stop them. they kept speaking up for what they believed in. for racial justice and equality and those democratic ideals that they believed in, just like black lives matter keeps standing up right now. when the four little girls were killed, a man named james
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baldwin, the writer and a -- they wrote a letter, why don't we have memorial services all over the country for these girls? that's exactly what happened. here is the memorial service we had in des moines. bill eckhart is here. he's the father of chris eckhart, who would later be involved in our case, tinker versus des moines. i just turned 11 years old and i thought those kids were so brave but i knew i was nothing like them because i was very shy. i didn't even like dogs. i was scared of dogs. when the dogs attacked the kids, i knew i wasn't going to be up there, but i thought those kids were so brave. people wore black armbands there in des moines and around the country just like this. it's a symbol of mourning, of being sad about something. the next year, well, the whole time was an amazing time for young people speaking up and standing up.
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1964, the mississippi freedom summer, when young people went from all over the united states to mississippi to help register black voters. why weren't they registering? because of the reign of terror that the ku klux klan and the white citizen's council was carrying out there. so young people went from all over the country in 1964, 1965, selma, the march. we also had the build-up of the vietnam war. in 1965, that christmas, this is what we would see on the news day after day and the famous broadcaster walter cronkite would say the body count today in vietnam is eight. next day, body count today in vietnam is ten. day after day. us kids were already pretty sad about what had been going on in birmingham and mississippi, and now we were watching the vietnam war. day after day. we didn't know what to do about it, but some kids at the high school had an idea, what if we
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just wear black arm bands to school and this will be our symbol that we're sad about the war and that we're supporting a christmas truce that was being supported by robert kennedy, senator robert kennedy had called for christmas truce. us kids thought that would be a good idea. we decided to wear black armbands to school. i was in eighth grade. the older kids said, come on, beth, you can do it, too. that's what they called me. i don't know, i was kind of shy. i'd rather go roller skating and i don't want to get in trouble, especially when the principals heard the rule and said anyone wearing an armband in the des moines schools will be suspended. kids don't need to be thinking about war, they should be thinking about math and science and social studies. we said, how can we not think about it? it's going on. the boys were being called off to war. my older brother was getting to the age where he could be going
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off to war. so we decided we would wear the black arm bands to school. i was very nervous and scared and we tried to convince the principals and the school board to change their mind. that's me with my mother and dad in back, and two other students, chris singer, also was suspended. five of us were suspended for wearing arm bands to school. they wouldn't change their mind, though. and so after i had been -- well, when i got to school, i was so nervous and scared and had on my black armband and i was send down to the office. they told me, now, you know, take off that armband, mary beth, because it's against the rules. in a great stand of courage, i had on my armband and i was so nervous and scared. i was at the office and i looked around the office. so i said, okay, and i took off the armband. and i took it off. that's when i found out you only
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need a little bit of courage to make a difference. you don't have to be the most courageous person in the history of the world. it certainly wasn't me. well, after we got suss -- five of us got suspended for wearing black arm bands to school. and so now, you know, people started sending hate mail and some people threatened to bomb our house on christmas eve. i didn't understand it because we were speaking up for peace at christmas time. it didn't make any sense to me. of course some people said, oh, these kids, they don't know anything about vietnam, they don't know what they're talking about, just like people are saying now about the students in florida and all over the country. well, that's not true. young people do know a lot. of what you talk about. and we knew something about how we felt about vietnam as well. besides, most adults didn't know very much about vietnam. they didn't know where it was. they didn't know the history of vietnam. and so there is a group named
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the american civil liberties union, the aclu, and they've been standing up for the bill of rights for almost 100 years. and they said that's not fair that these kids are being denied their first amendment rights. they should have a right to express themselves in the public schools. they weren't doing anything to hurt anyone. they weren't threatening violence. and so the aclu came and offered to help us and they tried to go with us to change the mind of the school board and the principals, but they wouldn't change their mind. they said, well, we're going to have to go over to the other branch of government. there are three branches, right? the legislative, which is your public schools, that's run by the legislative branch. the legislative, the judicial and the executive. and so all of those branches are supposed to follow the constitution. the constitution, very small but powerful.
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and the aclu said that we don't think your schools are following the constitution by saying that you can't wear those black arm bands to school. so they said we're going to have to go over to the judicial branch and have them check it, which is what happened. so it went to court. here is chris eckhart. he was also suspended. there are his parents. he was the third plaintiff. the three that went to court were me, my brother john and chris engickhart. here is my brother john and i add the appeals court level. what do you think happened? do you think that we -- we had lost at the district level, at the lower level. there are three levels, the district, the appeals level and the supreme court. we had lost at the district level and i thought, of course we're going to lose. no big important judge is going to say kids have rights. so we had already lost. so it was at the appeals level now. i think i was in tenth grade by now. what do you think happened?
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who thinks that we lost at the appeals level? yeah? who thinks we won at the appeals level? yeah, about half and half. should i let them know? all right. let's see here. did we win our case at the district level? no. oh, darn. at the appeals level? no. we lost. okay. so can i go back to that slide of the -- let's see, how do i get back? i guess go back to this one. well, did you -- remember the one of me and my brother with the peace arm bands? the picture. yeah, that's us. i don't know why we're smiling since we had just lost. that's us at the appeals level. well, maybe it's because of those nice little peace signs we decided to paint on our arm bands. originally they were just black. so we lost at the appeals level and then it went on -- it was appealed to the supreme court.
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at the supreme court, yay, we won! it wasn't just a victory for us, though, it was a victory for all of you and for students all over the united states because the supreme court said in the ruling written that neither students or teachers leave their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate and that sometimes students have something to teach their teachers. do you think so, students? yes, i knew you would. one of my favorite parts of the ruling is that students are persons under the constitution. this is kind of nice, being a person, and with the rights and responsibilities of persons, the court said there are two things that students cannot do under the first amendment. number one, substantially disrupt school or impinge on the rights of others. there would be limits.
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and that was the two things that the students do not lose their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door, but it must be a safe learning environment and there cannot be substantial disruption and students may not impinge on the rights of others. >> so what does this mean to students today? what do the rules that came out of tinker and des moines today mean to the students in this room? >> it was so important. your case, you know, it changed every because before that nobody thought students had first amendment rights in school, that they had the right to speak freely. so now, and this is something that a lot of people forget, a lot of school administrators sometimes think, yes, if you go to a public school, public school students do have the right to express their point of view, to express their political opinions. so you can't substantially disrupt the school, so if you're
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doing something that basically interrupts everybody else's education, then that's not allowed and the school can punish you for that, but if you're doing something, say, wearing a black armband, which is not disruptive, which expresses a political point of view that some people disagree with, maybe the school administration would disagree with, but that doesn't mean you don't have the right to do it. that doesn't mean that the school can stop you from doing it simply because they disagree with your opinion. so this case, this ruling basically is what allows students, what allows you guys to express your political point of view and to take action, even if it's not an action that your school necessarily agrees with. >> i have a question. mary beth, you went to a public school and i know you used the term public schools as well. why do you keep saying public school? what does that mean for students in charter or private schools? >> well, the first amendment protects from the government
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censorship or punishing you for your 7-piece. government schools are considered part of the government. that's why the first amendment applies to them. unfortunately, the first amendment will not protect you from a private organization trying to censor your speech or setting rules about what you can say or what you can wear. if you do go to a private school, you don't necessarily have the same protections in school. outside of school, you are still a person so there are ways you can express your political point of view and opinion. within school, private schools can put more rules on what you can say and do. >> charter schools are public schools so you are covered by the first amendment in charter schools. >> i'm going to pass back to you. >> shall i continue the story? all right. so i grew up and became a nurse. i started working with teenagers and children as a nurse. i started to seeing all of these wonderful qualities that all of you have. i started thinking it's going to be really great when young
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people have their rights and use their voices to stand up and speak up about so many issues that affect our world today. so many kids are speaking up and standing up and it really has a big effect. i saw so many great qualities of young people, creativity, energy, a quality albert einstein said is more important than knowledge, which is imagination. have to imagine a better way of doing things before we get there. that's one thing that so peopyo people are so good at. i started traveling around the country and speaking with students. i left my hospital and decided it would be good for the health of young people if you can stand and speak up for the things that affect your lives and have a voice. i started meeting so many young people all over the country who are doing that. actually, there are so many young people around the world who are doing that because this is an international human rights
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issues, the issue of the rights of children and teenagers. and i started meeting kids who are changing their towns' law so they can vote now at age 16. two towns now in maryland where students can vote, tacoma park, maryland. i was so excited to go to brazil and tell them about the 16-year-olds in the u.s. they said our whole country has it to so 16-year-olds can vote. i started learning so much about young people speaking up and standing up for themselves. yeah, do you like my van? i've been valvitraveling around. here are some kids i met in washington, d.c., where we are right now, where we do not have senators or representatives who have a vote in congress. almost 700,000 people do not have representation to vote in congress. and these kids are doing something about it. they want us to be the 51st
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state. so they were down at the senate at a hearing there about washington, d.c. becoming the 51st state so we would have senators and representatives to vote in congress also. here are some kids on long island whose french teacher was laid off and they started a petition. were they using the first amendment, by the way, to do that? yes. the right to petition. here are some students i met down at the supreme court a couple of years ago. now i like to go hang around the supreme court. it's so much fun. there is always so much going on down here. here are students i met there standing up for immigration rights. are they using their first amendment rights? yes. here are some students in arizona. they were speaking up for safer gun laws. and they had a walkout there last week when i was in arizona speaking with students from arizona. all over the state they came to speak about the things they were speaking up and standing up about. and while i was there -- while i was in florida, the tampa area,
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where are our students from florida? yeah, all right. okay. yes. i'm so glad that students in florida are speaking up for safer gun laws. i spent most of my career as a trauma nurse with teenagers, and i would be the one taking care of the kids that got shot and injured by guns. so now i'm so glad that young people are speaking up for yourselves. and here's a student in tampa who was doing that just last weekend when i was there. but one of my favorite stops on the tinker tour was back at my old junior high school, warren harding junior high school, where i went a couple of years ago to celebrate 50 years after being suspended. and the principal and the superintendant helped me plan a big celebration. we went to five high schools and elementary schools and back to my junior high school. they even dedicated a locker to me and my brother.
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chris eckhart, the other plaintiff in our case, passed away a few years ago, so he missed being there. but i'm so glad to be with all of you as we celebrate the first amendment and young people who use it to make a better world. thank you. [ applause ] >> so i know we moved through that very quickly because we want to make sure we have enough time to get questions from all of you, because that's why you're here today. if you want to dig deeper into this, if you want to read more on the case or the first amendment, check out for additional resources to maybe dig into the questions you might have. but i want to open it up to ask a question. now this is how it will work, if you have any questions at all, raise your hand and a staff member will call on you. we can only have four people lined up at our central microphone at a time.
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don't worry if you're not in the first round, we're going to try our best to get to everyone. if you're watching via the live stream, just tweet at us and we have someone checking those tweets and we will try to read those in. there are a lot of people watching so i'm not sure if we'll get to everyone, but we'll try our best. feel free to ask questions you have for mary beth or lana or me and we'll get those answered. but i pulled out one i want to start it with. while you're raising your hands and getting ready to ask your questions and lining up, i'd like to ask one someone sent in in advance. so this is from seth at finley high school in ohio. and seth asked, what were some struggles you faced in your court case? why did you feel you needed to start the movement you did? and do you have any regrets? >> the struggle that we faced mostly came from the haters, the crazy people who started sending
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us hate mail. some of it is right here at the newseum. some people would send letters saying why don't you go back to russia and china where you'll have oodles and freedom. i thought, what are they talking about, i'm from atlantic, iowa, where i was raised before we moved to des moines, iowa. and some people like that, you know, they're stale out there. they were sort of the trolls of 1965, but i think that was the hardest thing when people threw red paint at our house and called us communists just because we were speaking up for peace. my mom would say, we're not communists, we're methodists. so we handled it with, you know, by just laughing at times and crying at times and always remembering the sacrifice that other people before us had made. we always thought about the birmingham kids and the other kids in the civil rights movement and people who had risked their lives and really stood up to make a difference to
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make our democracy better. >> and he asks why also did you feel the need to start this and did you have any regrets about this? >> why did i start it? i was just emotionally motivated as the young people i think at marjory stoneman douglas have been. there are strong emotions and those strong emotions call for strong action. that's the motivation. we would watch on the news the children running from their burning huts in vietnam and the soldiers lying on body bags. and these news reports that made us very sad and feel very emotional about all of this. that was our motivation. it's a natural drive for young people to express yourselves, even babies express themselves. so i think it really -- it's a natural drive. >> all right. i want to turn to our first question in the house. so if you'll introduce yourself and then ask the question. >> and excuse me, i also have signed arm bands for all of you
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asking your questions. yes. >> all right. first and foremost, thank you so much ladies for putting this on. i'm a teacher at central dolphin east high school here with an array of students. my question is for mary beth. as a teacher, i know the power that my students possess, but you, someone who actually lived it and went through it, what would you tell them to keep their motivation and their spirits up, especially with everything going on in our country? >> what i found is that when you find an issue that you care about, and i know so many of you already have issues that you care about, and you join up with other people who also care about that issue to do something about it, life becomes very interesting. and meaningful. and you get to meet all kinds of great interesting people. like i'm meeting all of you today. and many days it's even fun, like today, so that is my advice. find some issue that you can speak up about and stand up about, and also, even as a child
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i felt sad about a lot of things. i still do today. i think because i've been a nurse working with children and teenagers for so many years, many things make me sad. for one thing, that kids don't have what you need a lot of times. and so i found that it really helps me to take action. and to do something about that. and it helps me to feel better. and i think that's helping the students in florida who and all over the country right now who are speaking up about the sadness that we all feel about the gun violence epidemic that is so out of control in our country right now. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> my name is miguel, i gone to city east. >> hi, miguel. >> i know you stated that in the beginning of the court case, like, i mean -- in the beginning when you wore the armband, your school suspended you, but when you got to the supreme court and everything, did your school change their mind or were they still against you? how was your community with it?
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did they support you or against you? >> originally the schools had suspended us, five students. there was north high school where my brother john got suspended, roosevelt high school. i was at warren harding junior high school. it was 1965. so then we weren't sure what to do, but the aclu, they came and said that we think that that's not fair, what has happened to you, so we're going to try to help you change that. and they did help. and that's why it went to court. we wanted to try to work it out without court. i advise students, if you have a disagreement with your school, try to work it out without court. it's much better, which we did try to do, but then it went to court. so that's how we ended up at the supreme court. eventually the school did completely come around and change, even when the school board voted against us originally, it was 4-3. so three school board members
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said we should be allowed to wear our arm bands. there is always a difference of opinion about these things. the year that we won, roosevelt high school invited our lawyer, don johnston, he was an amazing young lawyer, they invited him to be the keynote speaker at roosevelt high school. i have to hand it to the des moines schools. i've always enjoyed working with the des moines schools ever since. we're planning a big anniversary of the ticnker ruling which wil be there in february of 2019. >> all right. i'm going to take a question from twitter. so we're going to turn it over to our virtual audience. >> okay. i have three questions here that i'm going to lump together because they're on the same thought. one is coming from malik at marable hill school. i have jacquelin asking a similar question from bishop mack mayor ra school.
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and they are wanting you to compare students' rights today with how they have evolved either for the better or the worse since you were active. so do you feel like current educational system gives students more freedom to express their emotions and feelings today or is it more of the same or worse than when you were in school? >> are students better or worse today as far as having your rights? it really depends a lot on the school where you are. i work with so many principals, and i was just with some in arizona, that want their students to have rights and want students to use the first amendment and speak up. i was also a speaker at the national school board's association meeting a year ago with their school attorneys. there are so many school board members and school attorneys and principals, administrators, vice principals. i know some of you have people like that in your schools that want you to use your rights and stand up and speak up for yourselves. then, of course, there are some that aren't so, you know,
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comfortable with young people using your voices, but what i always say to administrators because i speak often with administrators, i always encourage the administrators to have students have a say in your schools. and not just over little things like what color to decorate with at homecoming, but real decisions that have to do with curriculum and what goes on in your schools. because when students have a voice, it's better for everyone in the school. >> lana, let me ask a question, are there any important first amendment developments or rulings that came between tinker and now that has influenced students' actions in schools? >> oh, yeah. one thing that happened after the tinker case was there was a supreme court decision in a case called hazelwood, if you write for a school sponsored publication or like your school newspaper or year book, they have more control over what you can publish there. basically, it said -- does
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anybody here write for their school newspaper. that's awesome. and unfortunately when you write for your school newspaper if your principal or vice principal says, no, that's too controversial or too critical of the school, you can't publish it because of that supreme court ruling. they have the power to do that as long as they have some educational reason for it. and that's -- i think that's unfortunate because i think that you can learn a lot as a student journalist by following the stories you think are most crucial to your audience, but i will say if your school newspaper won't allow you to publish it, you can still, say, put it on a website and print it out and distribute it, as long as you're substantially disrupting the school or invading the rights of your fellow students, you still have a right to speak out and convey your message. there is a lot more control when it comes to something that the school is putting out because it's thought of as the school's
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speech. >> let me add to that. even with hazelwood, it depends what state you live in and what school you go to. 13 states now, washington state was just the last one about a week or two ago, in those states the legislatures have passed laws saying we are going to support our student journalists. we're not going to go by the hazelwood decision. as long as the article is well-written and does not substantially disrupt school or impinge on the rights of others, our students will have -- you can check which states those are by going to the student press law center website. and they deal with student journalism rights. >> all right. i'm going to turn to another question in the house. hi. >> hi. i'm christina from north broward prep in florida. i have a question for ms. tinker. when you were suspended, how did you react and how did your parents react? >> when i was suspended, how did i react? thank you. i just happened to bring my
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suspension paper today. i'll show it to you. i found this in a box when i was cleaning out the closet a few months ago. always keep your suspension paper. this is to inform you mary beth has been suspended from school because she was wearing an armband that the board of education ruled against this week. i was nervous and worried when i was suspended and i didn't ever like to be in the spotlight. but over the years i've learned that if there's -- if i can help young people stand up and speak up, it's worth it. at the time i was very nervous and scared. i knew my mother would understand. i was a little bit more concerned about my dad. he said i don't think you kids should necessarily wear those arm bands because the principal has made a rule and it's not easy being a principal. but us kids, we knew something about our dad, this is where young people you're so
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persuasive. we knew that our dad had a soft spot for the conscience because he had lived through world war ii. and he always said that we need to stand up for our conscience and to stand up for what's right because otherwise we could have the nazis in charge. and so when our dad said that, we said, but, dad, it's our conscience. then he came over to our side. so i was really lucky about that. but i was nervous and scared the whole time. going to court, i was nervous. i was really worried about whether i was wearing the right kind of outfit for, you know, court and things like that. i mean, i was worried about a lot of ordinary things. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> all right. another one from someone here. hi. >> hello. mime name is jacquelin peters, i'm a sophomore at central dolphin east high school. if you could change one thing that you did, what would it be and why? >> if i could change one thing about all of this, well, do i
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have to pick just one? there would be several. one thing i always thought is that we should have taken more photos because we don't have a lot of photos of that period, but another thing if i could add one more, i would probably try to be a little less clueless. i was so clueless about how important this case was going to be. i had no idea. no idea it was going to be a big landmark case. you think i would get the idea because it was the supreme court. i just moved to a new school when we went to the supreme court and i was really thinking about who i was going to be friends with andal b algebra an where i was going to have lunch. >> thank you. >> i'm going to take a question from our virtual audience. >> several people or twitter noticing the pin that you're wearing. >> ah, yes, the pin. >> if you could explain that, please. >> well, i am the luckiest person because i got to meet
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sissy marshall, thursday gogood marshall's wife. his wife gave me a pin with his picture of thurgood marshall. i always wear this when i speak to students because i want you to know that thurgood marshall is here in spirit. he wanted young people to have your rights and speak up and use your fempt righirst amendment r make a better world. >> i'm jordan from north broward prep in florida. i have a question for ms. tinker. a lot of schools have been planning walk-outs in florida, but i know some public schools have been putting restrictions on them. how do you feel about that and how do you feel about how it goes against our first amendment? >> that some students are planning walkouts this week. i know it's a very big week for student voices, but some schools are putting restrictions on them you're saying and how to deal with that. i've talked to so many principles that are encouraging
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students to work with them, to have a walkout that, you know, works for everybody. where the principles can feel like it's safe and that they -- the students also feel like they're expressing their message. can you tell me the restrictions they're dealing with there? >> west boca decided they were having 17 minutes of silence and instead of doing that they were going to walk to douglas. the next day they locked the gates and said it was wrong what they did and can't do it again because more schools kept on doing it. they said it was wrong and they couldn't do it. that's kind of the restrictions i was talking about. >> the schools after they had one walkout, the schools locked the gates and wouldn't let them leave the school? >> other schools like pine crest wouldn't let them leave. >> pine crest and students would let them leave. what do you say about that? also i think we can talk a little bit about civil disobedience, because that's
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basically what we did by wearing our armbands. sometimes if there is really, really a rule you believe is wrong morally, like let's say gun violence. if there is something you really believe, and number two, you do something peaceful, the action has to be peaceful, and, number three, if you're willing to take the consequences. so some student might decide that, you know what, it's going to be -- i really, really feel strongly about this gun violence issue and i'm going to -- my walking out and peaceful. and number three, i'm willing to take the consequences of being suspended. that's called civil disobedience. i didn't know about it when i wore the armband, but that's basically what we did also. sometimes it's worth to pay that price. you have to be the ones to decide for yourselves. >> that's an incredibly good point because with the school walkouts, there is a good chance that if your school forbids them and you do it anyway, there is a good chance they would be able to punish you and it wouldn't be
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against the first amendment because you could consider that to be substantially disruptive, but, again, it's a decision that you make knowing that it would be possible for your school to punish you. if you're able to get your school and your school district to sort of sign on with our plan of action, that's the best, i think. if that's not possible, they can punish you so it's something that you need to think about. i will say that if the school locks students in, that is actually usually a fire code violation, and if that's something that is happening, you should inform the appropriate authorities because that's a shortcut to getting the students to do what you want them to do. it's possible they can punish you for walking out, but they cannot seal you in. just something to know. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> hi. >> hi. my name is ashley and i'm a student at the university of texas school of law. and i had a question regarding -- you talked a little bit about your experience as a high school student, but one of the things
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we've really seen is the difficulty at university campuses with balancing between having the free speech capabilities of debating and discussing but also the hazards of having really high-profile individuals and maintaining security on those campuses. how do you think we can encourage a balance between allowing for free speech on campuses but also ensuring these debates and protests don't get out of hand? >> yes, it's a huge issue. free speech on college campuses and the issue of hate speech and how much should the schools be responsible for security and how much do we weigh the first amendment, your free speech rights, with the 14th amendment, which is equal protection? and this is a legitimate debate that is going on in the country. i personally lean towards free speech and away from censorship, and i think that even with hate speech, you know, unless it's violent or threatening violence, as you said, that we have to be
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willing to tolerate some degree of speech that we don't approve of and that we don't agree with. and especially at college campuses, how are we going to, you know -- what do you think about it? >> i tend to lean the same way. the fact that i think allowing for a civil discourse to be able to consider various ideas is really healthy to have especially students here today to be able to hear kind of how you went through various experiences because i think that's how we're going to educate the masses more, by having those kinds of informed discussions so i would agree with that. >> a high school student came up to me recently after a talk, i think it was in illinois, and said i like your speech, but can you please be sure to talk about love more? so i said, well, yes, i will. and it really is about love and respect. even the first amendment is a guide for how we can deal with controversy and how we can deal with disagreement in our culture with respect, that we respect
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everyone's viewpoint and we respect not necessarily what they say, we don't agree with what they say necessarily, but we can respect them and we respect all religions, and that's the wonderful thing about democracy. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> i'm going to take a question from our virtual audience. >> okay. here is the question. if students have the freedom to wear this black armband, why are there particular dress codes and speech filters like that in place in public schools? >> that's a really good question. so in some cases like a -- so what you wear is a form of speech. and in the case of the black arm bands, it was seen as a kind of speech, it's little speech that doesn't invade anybody else's rights or disrupt the school environment. and the interesting thing is there was another case that came along years later where a student wore a t-shirt to school that had an anti-gay slur on it, and that was not -- and he was asked to take off the t-shirt.
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and in that case, it was not considered a valid exercise of his first amendment rights because even though it was a t-shirt, it had a message on it, it was seen since it was pretty offensive to any student who might identify as gay or really anybody in general, it was seen as invading the rights of other students. so just because it's an article of clothing, it doesn't mean it's necessarily nondisruptive or a noninvasive form of speech. it depends case by case. that's kind of how the first amendment works. you have to look at stuff in context and each instance is different from every other instance. you can't really have a blanket rule or clothing or any particular type of speech. >> courts have generally upheld school dress codes. >> all right. let's hear your question. >> hi, i'm kira, i'm from the marco island charter middle school with mr. jarrett. i have a question for ms. tinker. you said that you lost two of your court cases.
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so what kept you -- inspired you to move on even though you had lost? >> since we lost at the district level and then we lost at the appeals level, how did we keep the, you know, strength or the strength or the motivation to keep going on? it was hard because of, well, for one thing, the haters do make life a little unpleasant, of course. but they are out there, but we find ways to ignore them. right? yeah. but the worst thing was that the war kept going on and the war kept building up. and it was really awful, and so many people were going off to war from our area there where we lived in des moines. and so i think what kept me motivated was knowing young people through history who were standing up as well. i mean, even the birmingham kids, the little rock nine, i started learning about more kids in the civil rights movement. i was like, if they can risk their lives, then it's the least we can do is to go down and give
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this deposition and things like that. we also knew that there was so much, you know, misery going on in vietnam, and among the families of soldiers and things. so we always kind of compared it to that. it didn't seem so bad then. >> thank you. >> hello, i'm amber wolf from north proward prep in florida. >> why did i decide to be a nurse? >> i liked doing practical things. if somebody fell over right now in this room, i would sort of know what to do. i kind of like that idea. so i really liked nursing, and i really liked being with kids and teenagers. and i don't know, it was just something -- it sort of combined the practical skills, like even start ivs and things like that, but also you can combine making a better world, like preventing
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kids from being shot in the first place. so they don't need an iv. so i liked to focus on that part of nursing also, to help kids be healthy and strong so you don't need to end up in hospitals and emergency rooms. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> my name is evan perez. so my school tomorrow, they're having a walkout for all the gun violence and stuff. and i was just wondering if there's any advice you can give us to get our protests going. >> you're having a walkout tomorrow at your high school. what's your high school? >> central east high school. >> in florida? >> no, in harrisburg, pennsylvania. >> you're in harrisburg, pennsylvania. that's right. so you have it planned to walk out for tomorrow? >> yes. >> what's your plan? >> i think around student lunches we're going to --
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>> oh, yeah, chime in there. we've got both of you. >> so a group of us had a plan, we talked to our principal who approved it and then we talked to our administration, and they're like this is a great idea. so we got them involved. so a group of us came together with a plan to security, what we wanted, our message is for young people so speck up and ask for change. >> that sounds great. what is your name? >> alisa. >> east high school in harrisburg, pennsylvania, and you worked with your principal and with the administration and teachers. so you have a plan. are you going to leave at 10:00 a.m.? i think that's the time that a lot of -- >> three students are giving speeches. so we're going to go ahead and they're going to speak about mental health, gun reform and the nra. and then at ten minutes we're going to have for 17 minutes. >> that's great, you have a whole program set up, give speeches about gun reform and school safety and the nra and
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then you're going to have some silence or something else in there to memorialize the ones who were killed. that's wonderful, sounds like a good idea. okay, everybody, come on, let's hear it for them. that sounds like a good plan. so now you're trying to just tell other students about it and get more students involved or something like that, get the word around? >> yeah. >> great. well, you'll have to write to me and let me now how it works out. anyone is free to write me, and i'll write you back. >> any other first amendment thoughts we want to add? >> that's fantastic, and i think that's exactly what you should be doing, exercising your rights, being well organized, raising awareness, fantastic. >> go ahead. >> i'm christian from st. johns university. you mentioned in maryland how students now can vote at the age of 16. and i thought that's a great idea, i thought that was cool. but where -- at what point do
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they become -- does a student become an informed voter? is it -- you made this case at 13. is that -- we should have kids voting at 13, or just keep it 16? is there kind of a line that you think should be drawn? >> you're asking about voting in greenbelt, maryland, and tacoma, maryland, local elections, school board leks and local elections. can't vote for president and senators. where should the limit be for students voting? that is my question. where do you think it should be? i mean, it's not like there's a specific -- i sort of picked 16 because people around the world are focusing on that, and there are campaigns in various cities to change the voting age to 16. from a developmental, you know, point, it's probably pretty reasonable. what do you think about it? it's not like there's a set answer to any of this. >> i think that a younger age, makes sense, that students
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should be involved and providing them the right to do that, especially on a local level, will allow them to vote, and know the value, and the power of their voting from a younger age. i also think that if we were to do that we also need to make sure we teach younger people the value of voting, and how they should be voting, like what's the -- what's the goal and the purpose of voting? i'm not sure all education systems at a younger age do that on a younger level. >> yes, i know. i agree with you. there should be more civics and more emphasis on teaching students what voting is about and what the issues are about and things like that, too. but to be fair, a lot of adults don't know a lot of that as well, and they do have the right to vote regardless of where they're at in their own development or in their own knowledge of things going on. so that's why, it's fair to think about it. and we didn't always have the voting age at 18. that only got changed during the vietnam war.
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it used to be 21. so i think it should just keep coming down a little bit more and include more young voices. thank you. like yours. how old are you? >> i'm 18. >> you can register right now. >> my name is zachary nemark. i'm in north brower preparatory school in florida. some of the kids involved with it they don't have enough time to socialize and probably sometimes lose friends. did this happen to you, and what do you think about this, the kids going into it and they're losing their friends? >> if you get involved with the issues, you may not even have time for your social life, and you might lose friends? >> the ones going to interviews and all that stuff, what do you think about how they're losing their friends because they have to push them off to do interviews, and did this happen to you. >> kids have to get involved in issues like, say, gun violence
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and they get all involved and they're trying to build up the number of kids that are -- whatever they're doing, and then they might lose their friends. might not have as much time for their social life. so what can the kids do, and what about that? i mean, i think you have to balance, everything in life is a balance, i think. i'm a nurse. i want you to be healthy and balanced. if you get stressed, take a little rest, call a friend, drink some juice, do something that will help you feel better. take a little rest, do something that you like because it's fun, some hobby or something like that. we do have to have a balance. because if you just do -- work on some issue that you care about, like gun violence all the time, you might -- you know, it might get too stressful. i think those students -- everybody, all of us, have to find ways to balance. are you finding ways to balance your life too? >> yes. >> yeah, good. >> thank you. >> glad to hear that. thank you. >> i'm going to take one more question from the virtual audience. this one comes from finley high
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school. after you ran into opposition to the arm band, did you consider protesting in any other way, a different way? >> did we consider protesting in other ways after we ran into opposition on the arm bands? yes, and that's what i always tell students also. there's always some way that you can express your views. there was some students with the providence student union in rhode island, and they got tired of all the tests, tests, so they dressed up like guinea pigs and rats and they went to the state legislature. that's how they expressed themselves. they got in the news about that. i think they stopped that graduation requirement for yet another test. we couldn't wear our black arm bands back to school after christmas, we wore all black clothes for the rest of the year. and we said, well, they can't tell us to take our clothes off. so, you see, there's always a way. there's always a way to express yourself. >> last question.
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>> thank you so much. my name is amelia. i'm a scholar at st. on-johjohn university. one of the first few slides, you spoke on limitations of the first amendment, i was wondering if you can elaborate on the last one, it says the infringing of others rights, unfortunately, there are 964 hate groups across our country, according to those southern law poverty center research. it worries me that our political culture extends these limitations to this hateful ideology. i was wondering if you can give me more information on how our government defines infringement of others' human rights. >> absolutely. one thing that is something a lot of people don't know is that hate speech is protected by the first amendment. which, you know, ooinl ni'm not fan of hate speech. i think it's a horrible thing. but the problem is, is that it's very hard for anyone to define
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what is hate speech and what isn't, and what is offensivive, and what isn't. and while i'm no fan of hate speech, i worry about the government, or your school administration, or anyone being the ones to draw that line. because it's really easy for that line to -- when somebody else is basically deciding, okay, this is -- we're not going to allow anything that's offensive. it's really easy for that to encompass more and more things. that's why, even though i think it is very troubling that we have such hateful dialogue, and that there are so many active hate groups right now, but the problem with trying to ban them is that you end up banning a lot of other things as well. because, you know there are campuses that have put in codes saying we're not going to have any hateful groups and then that same thing was used to shut down a pro-palestinian group, shut down a chapter of black lives matter. a few other things too.
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i think because of that slippery slope, the best thing you can do when you're confronted with something hateful, the answer to that kind of speech is more speech, speak out against it. never forget you also have first amendment rights. sometimes it's the best thing to do to drown it out with the counter-argument to that. >> well, thank you so much everyone for your questions, both those of you who are here and those of you watching virtually. and an especially huge thank you to you for joining us today. if you want to continue this conversation tonight, we'll follow up with this conversation and sharing resources from both our site, thank you so much, everyone.


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