Students’ Rights Resource Center
As the Supreme Court famously said in Tinker v. Des Moines, students do not “shed their constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate.” The Constitution protects specific individual rights – like freedom of speech, the right to privacy, and freedom of religion – from intrusion by the government. The Constitution doesn’t place age requirements on these freedoms. The ACLU believes that all individuals, including young people, should enjoy these basic rights.
Of course, no one’s constitutional rights are absolute. The government retains the power to regulate our rights to a limited extent to preserve safety and order in our society. This is true for both young people and adults.
And with rights come responsibilities. The ACLU believes that individuals should exercise their rights in order to preserve them, but we all must exercise our rights with some common sense. This is especially true for students. The courts, which interpret the Constitution, have generally ruled that the rights of public school students can be regulated to a greater degree than the rights of adults. The courts have done this for many reasons, including age and safety considerations and to ensure that the educational process faces a minimum of disruptions during the school day. As a result, public school students have fewer constitutional protections than adults.
ACLU-TN has consistently advocated for greater protections for students through our public education and advocacy work, as well as through our legislative lobbying and litigation. We will continue this fight in the future.
Check out our information for students, parents, teachers, and administrators: