This paper examines the legal status of free speech in American educational institutions, the need for school leaders to have clear ethical guidelines regarding free speech, the attitude of society toward free speech in schools, and the importance of ethical decision making and personal values in free speech issues. The Constitution of the United States protects the right to free speech in American society, and the Supreme Court has ruled that students in public schools, as members of society, are also entitled to the same right to free speech (Essex, 2005). Teachers and students have a right to free speech according to the law, but some educational institutions may place various restrictions on the free speech of teachers and students. Some school leaders may believe that, in certain cases, reasonable limits should apply to the opinions that students and teachers can express verbally and in writing in an educational environment. School leaders have a duty to avoid harming the rights of students and teachers (Starratt, 2004). The leaders of schools must balance the constitutional rights of students and teachers to free expression and the expectations of a free and democratic society with the need to protect the private lives of individuals in schools from any form of harm. Students must learn that responsible journalism, ethical decision making, and critical thinking skills are essential when exercising the right to free speech in diverse educational environments.
Nathaniel Edwards, Yamaguchi National University, Japan
Stream: Educational policy
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