Grade School Students…
Grade School Students…
High School Students…
- meet local pro-life activists through your parents
- use their library facilities for your assignments
- turn class projects into pro-life activities (e.g. for history, research pro-life views of early U.S. feminists or show the racist, eugenic beliefs of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger. For biology class, write about babies’ development in the womb. For current events, research related pro-life issues, such as embryonic vs. adult stem cell research. For international relations, explore contraceptive imperialism of the World Bank and WHO. For a computer project, research the websites of pro-life groups. For a service project, volunteer at a pro-life pregnancy-counseling center.)
- get on the school newspaper staff and do pro-life stories
- write letters to the editor and submit opinion editorials and cartoons
- all of the above – and more!
- join your campus pro-life group. If there isn’t one, start one! (Get the backing of faculty members, alumni, and community members) Contact Students for Life of America to form medical and college groups.
- bring pro-life speakers to your campus. Hold rallies, pickets, events that are colorful and creative (contact www.feministsforlife.org).
- Set up a pro-life photo display on campus (www.cbrinfo.org), or a field of crosses representing one day’s or hour’s toll of aborted babies (good photo op).
- Man a literature table.
- In the free speech area, read aloud from pro-life books that the campus library does not carry.
- Show pro-life videos.
- Publicize any attempts to censor your views or discriminate against you.
Principals and teachers…
- dedicate your school year to defending life
- hold assemblies featuring pro-life and pro-chastity guests
- work to establish a character-based, Authentic Abstinence (abstinence-only) program in your school
- maintain close contact with your local crisis pregnancy center and other pro-life groups
- have a baby shower as a service event, to provide layette materials for pregnant moms in need
- make sure your textbooks do not promote sexual activity outside marriage, "safe sex", euthanasia, abortion, etc.
- make sure your school library is well-stocked with pro-life books, videos, and other materials
- take a busload of students to the January 22 March for Life in Washington, D.C. or to a similar event in your own state
- invite your staff and students to collect "pennies for life" (pocket change) and give the proceeds to the local pro-life center, home for unwed moms, CPC. [adapted from HLI Reports, 9/99]
[from Thomas More Center for Law & Justice, 28Sept 2001]
The purpose of this letter is twofold: (1) to inform you of your right to wear the Rock for Life t-shirts in public school and (2) to explain your tight to distribute Rock for Life literature in public school. As discussed more fully below, it is your constitutional right to wear Rock For Life t-shirts as well as pass out its literature. Such forms of expression are generally protected by the First Amendment.
By way of introduction, the Thomas More Center for Law & Justice is a national, not-for-profit, public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We are dedicated to defending and promoting religious freedom, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. We provide our services without charge.
In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969), the Supreme Court of the United States clearly stated that public school students do not lose their constitutional rights of freedom of speech
or expression once they pass through the schoolhouse gates. The Supreme Court went on to state that:
In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school as well as out of school are 'persons' under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State. In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved. In the absence of a specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views.
Tinker, 393 U.S. at 511. Moreover, according to the Supreme Court,
A student's rights [of free speech and expression]…do not embrace merely the classroom hours. When he is in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours, he may express his opinions, even on controversial subjects…if he does so without 'materially and substantially interfer(ing) with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school' and without colliding with the rights of others. But conduct by the student, in class or out of it, which for any reason — whether it stems from time, place, or type of behavior — materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder of invasion of the rights of others is, of course, not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.
Tinker, 393 U.S. at 512-513. Thus, according to the Supreme Court, for a public school to justify its prohibition of your freedom of speech and expression, the public school:
Must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Certainly where there is no finding and no showing that engaging in the forbidden conduct would ‘materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school, ‘ the prohibition cannot be sustained.
Tinker, 393 U.S. at 509. Accordingly, mere speculation by school authorities that there may be substantial disruption or interference is not enough. They must have facts to substantiate their concern.
In summary, then you may wear the Rock For Life t-shirts and pass out the Rock For Life literature while in public school so long as you do not materially and substantially interfere with the general operation of the school or with the rights of others. With regard to the distribution of the literature, in order to avoid a claim of material and substantial interference, you should not pass it out during classroom instruction time. Rather, you should distribute the literature during non-instructional time in accordance with the school’s reasonable rules regarding student distribution of literature.
Of course, this letter is not intended to provide you with legal advice concerning a specific case. You should contact a lawyer if you are involved in a specific dispute over the wearing of a Rock For Life t-shirt or over the distribution of Rock For Life literature in public school. If you are unable to obtain an attorney, you may contact us at the phone number below.