Each day millions of parents send their children to schools where teachers are ignorant, or disobedient, to the restrictions of what and how they can teach in the classroom. Topics such as religion, politics, and other controversial issues are being portrayed unequally, infringing upon student’s right to a fair view on the world around them.
Students have a wide range of religious freedom protected by the First Amendment in the classroom, such as forming religious based groups, praying in the classroom if not distracting, and incorporating their beliefs into school assignments. But, teachers have many more restrictions than students. In public school, teachers and school districts are required by the First Amendment to neither promote nor inhibit religion. Fairness is demonstrated when the curriculum includes academic study about religion when the content is tied to academic objectives to ensure a rounded education. Although court systems are not black and white, and many cases fall in a gray area, teachers should be educated on their overall limitations.
Because classrooms are not considered public forums, teachers must work within school limitations in their approach to sensitive topics, careful not to take sides on political controversies. Unfortunately this has not been the case especially during the recent election. The Washington Post published an article from October 14th, 2016 glorifying “Teachers of the Year” who are publicly going against their obligation to remain neutral involving political topics in the classroom. Instead of being punished for their violation of what teachers can and cannot do inside the classroom, their “moral imperative” to spread their opinions to their students was praised. Classrooms in my own school have shown evident bias towards political candidates, and teachers have encouraged students with the same views to act disrespectfully towards opinions of opposite views. If a small school in Wisconsin has such a large divide and lack of respectful discussion for students with a range of diverse beliefs, what other inequities are taking place nationwide, and what will we do about it?
In a lot of places, they pray before football and other games. It has been going on for a long time. Now, people are challenging if this is going against the law. The 1st Amendment gives people freedom of speech and religion. How people interpret that leads to conflict on this issue.
The football team in Dumore has prayed before games for a long time (read more here). They are now told they can’t and are not happy about it. They can’t pray before the game anymore because they were told it’s against the law as public teacher and coaches should not be involved in leading religious acts. The 1st Amendment says freedom of religion. Some people think that means that people should be free to pray if they want. The other side thinks that means students can choose to pray, but it can’t be led by staff because it goes against the separation of church and state. If people from a different religion or belief were there, they could feel pressured to just follow along or be treated differently.
In conclusion, students can still pray if they want, but the 1st amendment makes it so people can be free to practice their own religions how they want to and not how the school tells them to.(read more here)
“PRO/CON…Should sports teams be allowed to pray before games?” October 18, 2012 by Amy Ayala from King’s Courier
“When Faith and Football Don’t Mix” by Ken Paulson October 23, 2012
“Prayer Before Football Game Ruled Against The Law” by Stacy Lange 11/4/2016
North Carolina’s Governor stated the intended goal of the proposed law would be to, “clarify student rights to engage in prayer and religious activity in school, to create an administrative process for remedying complaints regarding exercise of those student rights and to clarify religious activity for school personnel.”
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all. So our founders created the First Amendment — to guarantee the separation of church and state.
It is important that no new law corrupt or infringe on the constitutional rights of our citizens.
It is clear that this law is yet another attempt to do just that. To enact this law will open the school district to lawsuits from students and faculty alike in regards to expressions of religion that are or could be construed as unconstitutional. In the court case of “ Wallace v. Jaffree “ this is exemplified. Another case that addresses this subject of prayer during school functions such as graduation was found to be unconstitutional when considering that the school would be public. This was concluded in the case of “ Lee v. Weisman”.
What is needed instead perhaps is clarification of the constitution, as expression is already protected in a personal way. Examples include a student’s personal views as ascribed in a paper perhaps what is forbidden is an organized school sponsored prayer or prayer group.
USA News “School Prayer fight Begins Anew” USA News.2014/08/2014
“Wallace v. Jaffree.” Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1984/83-812. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.
“Lee v. Weisman.” Oyez, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/90-1014. Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.
As of today, the First Amendment does not contain an exception for hate speech, meaning it is allowed and even protected under freedom of speech. There is a limit to speech considered “fighting words,” or threats, but hate speech is not included because the First Amendment considers it to be merely an expression of opinion. Many people believe that our Constitution should be altered to limit hate speech due to its potentially detrimental effects on the victims; however as of right now, any citizen has the right to express their hate as long as it doesn’t put others in danger.
One of the most recent cases involving hate speech is Phelps vs. Snyder, when Westboro Baptist Church protested at the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who had died in Iraq. The church strongly believes that God punishes the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality, especially within the military, so they often protest at military funerals with signs with phrases like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates Fags.” Matthew’s father, Albert Snyder, testified against the church with the claim that he is unable to separate the thoughts of his son’s death with the thoughts of the hateful protest, often getting physically ill just thinking about it. After much consideration, the Supreme Court sided with the church on the premise that their protest is a matter of public concern expressed on public property, and therefore protected by the First Amendment. Similarly, the members of the church have the right to communicate their ideas just as we all do.
Although this is technically correct, many people still regard their protests as an act of lawlessness, and think the Westboro Baptist Church and its members should have taken responsibility for the repercussions on the Snyder family. I think the Constitution should put some type of limitation on hate speech. Clearly not all of it can be restricted, as it would infringe on our citizens’ rights to expression, but I do believe some structure should be put in place. For example, with Albert Snyder and his physical disturbance caused by the protests. Although legal, these assertions have caused pain for many people, and should therefore be outlawed under the First Amendment.
Liptak, Adam. “Funeral Picketing Is Free Speech, Court Rules”. Nytimes.com. N. p., 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
Volokh, Eugene. “No, There’S No “Hate Speech” Exception To The First Amendment”. Washington Post. N. p., 2017. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.