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Massachusetts Law About Student Dress Codes and Freedom of Expression

Massachusetts Laws

MGL c. 71, s. 82 Right of Students to Freedom of Expression

Federal Laws

US Constitution, lst Amendment Free Speech, Press, Religion

Selected Case Law

Pyle v. South Hadley School Committee, 423 Mass. 283 (1996) Court held that high school students in public schools have the freedom under MGL c. 71, s. 82 to engage in non-school sponsored expression (wearing a t shirt) reasonably considered vulgar, but which causes no disruption or disorder.

Tinker v. Des Moines Community School District, 393 US 503 (1969) Supreme Court held that students who wore armbands which carried a political message had a constitutionally-protected right, under the First Amendment, to do so.

Other Web Sources

Freedom of Expression, National Paralegal College. Uses simple case studies to outline what is and is not protected speech or symbolic speech.

Student Dress Codes in Public Schools: A Selective Annotated Bibliography, Law Library Journal, v.94, no. 1, 2002-2003. Great place to start research, with a summary of key cases and an extensive bibliography of recommended sources.

Student Speech, ACLU. Includes symbolic speech, such as dress, as well as more traditional issues like school papers and theater productions.

Students' Rights, ACLU of Massachusetts.

Students' Rights in Massachusetts, GLAD, July 2, 2012. New! "Massachusetts law forbids discrimination in public schools on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (effective July 1, 2012). Questions & Answers (Accurate as of July 2, 2012)."

Print Sources

Education Law, by James A Rapp. Matthew Bender, loose-leaf. vol 3.

"First Amendment Rights of Free Speech and Press as Applied to Public Schools - Supreme Court Cases," 73 L Ed. 2d 1466.

The Law of Schools, Students and Teachers in a Nutshell, 4th ed., by Kern Alexander. Thomson, 2009.

School Law in Massachusetts, MCLE, loose-leaf, chapter 10.

Teen Rights (and responsibilities) by Traci Truly. Sphinx, 2005.

"Validity of Regulations by Public School Authorities as to Clothes or Personal Appearance of Pupils," 58 ALR 5th 1.