Students You Have the Right – Are You Brave Enough to Fight for Justice?
There are many issues that occur here in Mission Bay that affect the students and sometimes even the teachers. Issues include teacher layoffs, teacher excess, unbalance of recruiters and many more that have happened in the past. Because these affect us first hand, students will disagree and will do something about it such as protest, walk outs, sit ins and more. Most students are not aware of the rights they possess; of course the people who don’t want changes to happen will do anything in their power to intimidate and try to stop the students. Every student has the right to change what affects them in any way.
ACLU stands for American Civil Liberties Union. This organization “is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.” They “also work to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities.” In basic words this organization is here to help those who struggle to fight for what they want, whose rights have been violated and need an extra hand to get justice.
M.E.Ch.A (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano(a) de Aztlan) is an activist club that exists here in Mission Bay. They are constantly searching for and finding injustices here in the school grounds. They have worked before with agents from ACLU and have found great solutions to some of the problems. Of course they still have more to resolve but they are in contact with more people of power that are always willing to help out. The groups of students that belong to this club are not afraid of getting in trouble. Why might that be? These students are aware of their rights. Not even the principal scares them because they know they have the right to change injustices.
So what are your rights as a student? Let’s start with the right to express. Can you express your political views while you are at school? The answer is yes. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press to all people including students. There is a special section where it refers directly to students giving them the right to express political views. Including: wearing buttons, badges and other insignia (including armbands or message T-shirts), posting notices on school bulletin boards, distributing petitions, handing out other printed materials, such as leaflets, writing in public school newspapers and yearbooks, writing in “underground” (or unofficial) newspapers.
Can the school limit the ability to express, prevent you from expressing or punish you for saying your political views? According to ACLU the school can limit you according to time, place and manner. For example if you are disrupting class school can stop you. The way to do it at school would be during your lunch time. They can also stop you if the information you are giving out is obscene, false, harms someone’s reputation, and creates immediate danger. They cannot however, prevent you from talking about the topics even if school believes it’s controversial. Like it was stated before it cannot be false or hurt anyone because then it is illegal. As much disagreement that would exist in a topic they cannot stop you from talking about it.
These are just some examples of the rights we as students possess. There is nothing to be scared of when you have learned what you can and cannot do. Stand up and fight for your teachers, students, your school, and yourself first and foremost. Open up your eyes and look around – there might be problems that affect you that you can’t even see clearly.
Here is an ACLU guide on student protest rights. Click here to see the guide.