Free Speech at the Schoolhouse Gate: Landmark cases on speech and expression in schools

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How is free speech different in schools from in the public square, and how should schools deal with the complexities of speech and expression? In 1965, siblings John and Mary Beth Tinker wore armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. After being suspended and suing their school district, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in their favor, saying the armbands didn’t create substantial disruption. The case, Tinker v. Des Moines, created the “Tinker Standard” which gave school districts the right to regulate expression if it was “materially disruptive.”

The Tinkers, along with Cathy Kuhlmeier, also a U.S. Supreme Court litigant, and David L. Hudson, Jr., a First Amendment expert and law professor, will tell their stories at a public event on Thursday, November 2 at 6:00 pm at the Concord City Auditorium, followed by a discussion led by UNH Law Professor John Graebe. The program is supported in part by a New Hampshire Humanities Community Project Grant. Free and open to all; tickets are required.

On Friday, Nov. 3 from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm in Nashua, social studies teachers are invited to the NH Council for the Social Studies conference, featuring keynote speeches and breakout sessions led by John and Mary Beth Tinker, Cathy Kuhlmeier, David Hudson, and other First Amendment experts. Register for both events at