Teachers should be allowed to wear clothing in support of Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter (Point)


Parikshith Hebbar, Contributing Writer

Teachers and administrators should be able to wear clothing in support of Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter.  They should be able to express themselves and the causes they support.  This is because the First Amendment protects political speech.  If you are a private citizen, and you are speaking on a matter of public concern, the First Amendment protects your right to say whatever you want.  

While political speech is protected, there are certain limitations imposed on speech made by public school teachers.  According to the American Civil Liberties Union, what a teacher says or communicates “inside the classroom is considered speech on behalf of the school district and therefore is not entitled to First Amendment protection.”  

“Teachers have freedom of speech and they have the right to express themselves,” said freshman Colin Crilley.

The Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that students could wear armbands to school as an expression of their political beliefs and this right could only be restricted if the expression caused a “substantial and material disruption.”  While students may wear political clothing, the right of teachers to do so is not as clear.  

Following Tinker v. Des Moines, courts in various states have elaborated on the  interpretation of what is considered “disruptive.”  The ACLU gives the example that a teacher “can probably wear a necklace with a religious symbol on it.  However, a court has ruled that a school may ban teachers from wearing buttons supporting a current political candidate, as this could be considered ‘disruptive.’”  

Many feel the First Amendment is meant to protect the political speech of everyone, including teachers. 

“Teachers should be able to represent their beliefs, but not impose them on the children they are teaching,” said freshman Ragib Haque.  

Some argue that if teachers wear certain clothing, they could potentially influence how students think about an issue, and that might be harmful.  However, students need to learn that they need to come up with their own opinions.  

“We should be able to express our opinions.  We shouldn’t be able to be stopped from exercising our rights,” said freshman Zayd Pattie.  

Currently, many people are concerned about the issues surrounding the Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter movements.  Teachers and administrators should be free to wear clothing in support of these movements.  It is important to respect people’s right to free speech, and the school district should value the expression of these ideas.  

If a teacher supports a political view that you do not share, it is okay.  The First Amendment should protect everyone in the country, whether they work within a school district or not.  If teachers wear clothing in support of a political or religious view, they can use this as an opportunity to teach students to respect everyone’s views.  

“Teachers and administrators can help teach students or other people about what is going on, but also let them find their own opinions.” said freshman Mike Red.  

Furthermore, there is a moral imperative to educate youth on current events, especially huge movements that affect their rights.  If done appropriately, this dialogue need not be “disruptive.”