A school district acts entirely within its permissible authority in imposing sanctions upon a student in response to his offensively lewd and indecent speech when the penalties imposed are unrelated to any political viewpoint. The First Amendment does not prevent the school officials from determining that to permit a vulgar and lewd speech would undermine the school's basic educational mission.
At school-sponsored function at petitioner's school, respondent delivered a speech nominating a fellow student for student elective office. During the entire speech, respondent referred to his candidate in terms of an elaborate, graphic, and explicit sexual metaphor. Respondent used the language against the advice of two teachers. Pursuant to petitioner's disciplinary rules, respondent was suspended from school for two days. Respondent brought suit against petitioner alleging a violation of his U.S. Const. amend. I right to freedom of speech and sought both injunctive relief and monetary damages. The trial court found for respondent and the court of appeals affirmed.
Were the disciplinary sanctions imposed on the respondent violative of his right to freedom of speech, as stipulated in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
The Court held that U.S. Const. amend. I did not prevent petitioner from suspending respondent since the penalties imposed were unrelated to any political viewpoint. In effect, U.S. Const. amend. I did not prevent petitioner from determining that to permit respondent's speech would undermine the school's basic educational mission.