The Infringement of the First Amendment in High School Theatre

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In the landmark case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), John Tinker and his siblings decided to openly protest the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to school (Goldman 1). The school felt that their efforts to protest the war disrupted the school environment. “The Supreme Court said that ‘in our system, undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.’ School officials cannot silence student speech simply because they dislike it or it is controversial or unpopular” (FAQs 2). What about theatrical performance? Should certain plays not be performed at school because of inflammatory content? Theatrical performance plays a significant role during various years of a child’s youth, but, alone, has one central aim that allows for tolerance and multifariousness within the “salad bowl” United States. High school theatre arts curriculum’s purpose is to develop appreciation of the doctrines, perspectives, principles, and consciousness of diversified individuals in distinctive epochs throughout history as conveyed through literary works and theatre. If theatre has this sort of impact, why does the school administration, teachers, parents, even the state government, infringe upon the student body’s First Amendment rights? Schools should make no policy that would chastise a student for speaking their mind or expressing oneself, unless the process by which they are expressing themselves meddles with the educational methods and the claims of others. If a student threatens another student under “the right” of being able to speak freely, one would hope a school would take immediate action before potential harm occurs. The First Amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to...
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