The Hate Speech Conundrum and the Public Schools




Myhra, Alison

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North Dakota Law Review


This article argues that the public elementary, junior high (or middle), and senior high schools, as both a prescriptive matter and a descriptive matter, constitutionally may regulate student hate speech in order to effectuate the constitutional values of equality and free speech. We must support schools in their efforts to combat hate speech and its underlying causes of prejudice and intolerance. Part II articulates the characteristics of colleges and universities and their students, contrasts the unique characteristics of the public schools and their students, and describes the harms inflicted by verbal assaults. Part II also describes the proffered justifications for hate speech regulations at the college and university level. The justifications establishing the constitutional permissibility of hate speech regulations at colleges and universities, justifications based upon doctrine governing adults and their activities, also sustain hate speech regulations promulgated by the public schools. Restrictions on speech that may be imposed on adults in the world-at-Iarge may be imposed without question on children who are students in the public schools. Part III proposes that normative educational values require regulation and, further, that specific constitutional doctrines fixing the boundaries of First Amendment freedoms within the public schools allow for regulation of hate speech in the public schools.



Public school, Hate speech, Free speech


68 N.D. L. Rev. 71