Controversy Over The Use Of Symbolic Speech In Schools

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Symbolic speech in schools has been debated for decades. It can be seen as subtle words used between classmates, or quite evident like a shirt containing graphic material. In all cases, a basic school of thought must be applied: the effects on learning. In the eyes of the law, the freedom of speech is overruled by the freedom to learn. The freedom to learn may not be as easy to interpret in the bill of rights, but is present nonetheless. For example, students cannot wear articles of clothing that imply drugs/alcohol. An acceptable instance would be if a student wore a shirt that peacefully expresses one’s religion. Although both examples are protected under the constitution, the shirt implying drugs/alcohol isn’t protected because it infringes…show more content…
I’m certain that some schools have very fair parameters regarding free speech. That being said, I’m just as certain that unreasonable administrators go too far in various situations. In a broad sense, I think free speech in schools goes just far enough. Controversy over how students can use symbolic speech stems from ignorance of the learning environment. Many of my peers argue that the dress code in school is a violation of free speech. I approach it through simple necessities. Are controversial clothes a necessity for a school to function? A reasonable person would say no. Having said that, is an environment where students efficiently learn a necessity for a school to function? I believe yes and I’d be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees. The purpose of school is to function as an establishment of learning. If something were to impede on the learning process, it is only reasonable that it be removed. My opinion on this issue has been strongly influenced by a personal experience with symbolic speech in schools. My sophomore year, I was on an intramural basketball team that was intended to reference the Wichita State Basketball team. Our team name was the Shockers and right before our first game, we were told that the name would be censored due to an offensive slang connotation of the word Shocker. I was frustrated, and decided the only way I could make an difference was to go…show more content…
They rationalize that there are plenty of freedoms students have today which cause them to be distracted. For example, clothes can be a distraction. By that logic, wouldn’t an ideal learning environment entail students wearing uniforms? Students would definitely be less distracted, but at what cost? That is the source of controversy; the task of determining what a significant distraction looks
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