ICONS of FREEDOM V
From TouroLaw Media on November 30th, 2018
Touro Law Center, in partnership with Project PATCH, the Law and Civic Education Program of the Northport-East Northport School District, hosted Icons of Freedom. The event enabled high school students to participate in a symposium featuring special guest speakers who are icons of freedom - Mary Beth Tinker and Cathy Kuhlmeier Frey. Tinker was one of the lead plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines. As a public school student during the Vietnam era, as a matter of conscience, Mary Beth Tinker wore a black armband to school to mourn for the dead on both sides of the conflict and express her wish for peace. This act of self-expression resulted in her suspension from school. The case was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court of the United States which ruled in favor of the students, holding that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”. This landmark holding is one basis for students’ First Amendment rights in schools today. As a student at Hazelwood East High School in Missouri, Cathy Kuhlmeier Frey served as the student editor of the school newspaper, The Spectrum. The paper was an integral part of the curriculum for the Journalism II course at Hazelwood East High School. In the spring of 1983, with the support of her teacher and faculty advisor, Kuhlmeier sought to publish articles on teen pregnancy and divorce in The Spectrum. The school principal removed the stories from the paper. Believing this censorship violated students' rights to Free Speech and Free Press under the First Amendment, Kuhlmeier filed a lawsuit against her school which eventually made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States. In the landmark case Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier the Supreme Court ruled against Kuhlmeier finding schools have the power to censor "school sponsored" student expression if the censorship relates to legitimate pedagogical concerns. This decision remains controversial. Ten states (and the District of Columbia) have passed "Anti-Hazelwood" laws or regulations that extend additional protections to student journalists. Today, Cathy Kuhlmeier Frey continues to work as an advocate for students' rights and freedom of the press. Touro Law Center and Project PATCH expanded their partnership earlier this year. The program will provide training for K-12 teachers throughout the state, presentations and information sessions at statewide teaching conferences as well as educational programs and mock trial competitions for students.