School Our Schools on Students’ Constitutional Right to “Take a Knee”

  • Week of October 1, 2017

Student athletes across the country are choosing to exercise their freedom of expression by taking a knee during the National Anthem in solidarity with athlete heros like Colin Kaepernick. At some public schools, such as Parkway High School in Louisiana, students who don’t stand during the National Anthem will face suspension:

That’s unconstitutional. Let’s break down the law real quick:

In the 1969 case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the US Supreme Court held (7-2) that three Iowa students could wear black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam war. The court reasoned that this symbolic speech was  “akin to pure speech” and wearing black armbands was a “nondisruptive, passive expression of a political viewpoint.”  

Just like wearing armbands, “taking the knee” is protected speech and all-of-us must school principles like Waylon Bates on the basic rights ensured by our Constitution!

Here’s how:

  1. Read this article about Parkway High School’s suppression of speech.
  2. If you have a child in a public school speak to the administration about making a statement in support of their students’ First Amendment rights.
  3. If you have a child in private school, that’s a little different. First Amendment rights apply to public entities. Private entities (such as the NFL, companies, or schools) make their own rules. So speak to the administration about making a statement in support of freedom of expression!
  4. Look up who your County Superintendent is. Call them and ask them to make a clear statement in support of students’ constitutional rights to express themselves.