The National Coalition Against Censorship wrote to a school in Ardmore City, Oklahoma after learning that the district had banned students from wearing Black Lives Matter clothing to school. Media suggest the superintendent told a parent that “politics will not be allowed in school.” However, as established in Tinker vs. Des Moines (1969), the political discourse of students is protected by the First Amendment.

According to reports, students were to turn their Black Lives Matter shirts inside out and not be allowed to attend classes unless they changed their clothes.

Students have the right to make political statements on school grounds, including wearing political messages on clothing, as long as they don’t. substantially disrupt school activities. This is “substantially” crucial in protecting the right of students to express their opinions.

The NCAC encourages Ardmore City Schools to reconsider its commitment to helping its students become citizens who engage in respectful civic discourse. It is true that expressing political opinions anywhere, including at school, can cause disputes among those who disagree. But Oklahoma state education standards require that students become effective listeners and communicators; demonstrate an understanding of the virtues citizens should use when interacting with one another; and, more generally, to present traits of civic-mindedness. The NCAC urges the district to make it clear to its students that they have the right to express their views and not to agree with the views of others, in a way that does not substantially disrupt the school.

Read the full letter to the school district below. Click here for a full screen view: