Know Your Rights: Back to School

Extreme politicians are attacking students' and teachers' rights throughout the country, including here in Maine – but as the Supreme Court ruled in 1969, students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Know your rights this school year – from fighting book bans to protecting LGBTQ rights. Click the images below to learn more.

Our know your rights resources cover a variety of issues in public schools, including teacher and staff free speech, dress codes and gender identity, student protests and walkouts, and tribal regalia at school ceremonies.

Know Your Rights Back To School Student Speech, Walkouts, and Protest
Know Your Rights Back To School General Students' Rights
Know Your Rights Back To School k-12 Public School Teachers and Staff
Know Your Rights Back To School Tribal Regalia at Graduation and Events

Throughout the country and right here in Maine, politicians, school boards, and other bad actors are committed to banning books, censoring classroom discussions, and curtailing other constitutional rights. The push for classroom censorship is not new, and recent efforts are a backlash to racial justice protests sparked by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others at the hands of police. Understanding your rights at school is crucial because when politicians attempt to sanitize and whitewash our places of learning, students lose the opportunity to understand the world around them and draw their own conclusions.

Earlier this year, the ACLU of Maine and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) wrote an open letter to all Maine districts demanding they uphold their own legal obligations and students’ First Amendment rights by stopping efforts to ban and censor books. The letter was in response to several attempted restrictions throughout the state and followed several letters sent to specific school districts considering restricting or banning access to certain books.