As an American, I’d like to think that I automatically get first amendment rights, but as a student, that isn’t exactly the case. On the contrary, students’ rights are often taken from them simply because a leader in education views certain actions or behaviors offensive or inappropriate.
The most famous case in relation to students’ first amendment rights is Mary Beth Tinker’s case in 1969, Tinker v. Des Moines. For years prior to the court hearing, Tinker, Tinker’s brother, and their friend went to school wearing black arm bands as a symbol of respect for those that were dying in Vietnam and as a passive protest to the war. The students were taken out of class, asked to remove the arm bands, and suspended for doing nothing more than expressing their opinions.
Four years later, Tinker went to court and ultimately won, but that didn’t mean the student rights battle was over – far from it. Since Tinker’s case, students have actually lost rights.
Although Tinker works as a nurse, she remains an advocate for students everywhere in an effort to allow everyone the opportunity to have rights that are ours in the first place. In this effort, Tinker has launched the Tinker Tour, which is stopping at many high schools and universities this spring, including the University of Oklahoma on April 10, 2014.
I encourage you to see if Mary Beth Tinker is coming to a town near you and learn what you can do to help Mary Beth Tinker’s cause. Keep checking the website, as I’m sure dates will be posted soon.
To learn more about Mary Beth Tinker, her case, her work for student rights, and the Tinker Tour, check out the links below:
Also, a contribution to the tour would be greatly appreciated and would aid Mary Beth Tinker in her mission to hit as many schools as possible. You can find Tinker Tour’s fundraising page here.