Should students be allowed to wear political messages?

  • Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A few days ago a high school student wore a T-shirt to school supporting one of our presidential candidates. According to her statement to the press one of her teachers embarrassed her and compared her to the Ku-Klux-Klan.                                                                                                    
In this hotly charged political climate of presidential politics it didn’t take long for the event to make the national news. The student and her father were placed in the national spotlight.  
In fairness to the teacher, what has been said of the teacher is all based on what the student shared because the school district is presently conducting an investigation and the results of that investigation have not been made public at the time of this article.
What is your personal opinion concerning this matter? Should students be allowed to wear shirts with political messages or in support of political candidates to school?  
Why or why not?
E-mail me at valmyval@yahoo.com and give me your perspective on the matter.                         
I want to pose a few questions for you to consider that may help to broaden the discussion.                                                                                                                                       
If students should be allowed to wear shirts with political messages how far should those messages go? How partisan should they be?
Should they go the lengths of what free speech allows even if they violate school standards or are offensive to some or most of the people around?
Is what is acceptable outside in terms of free speech also acceptable or proper for the classroom? Should there be an age limit or should middle school or even Kindergarten kids be allowed to wear anything they or their parents deem fit in terms of messages on their clothing?  
Who sets the standards or should set the standards in terms of dress?
What are some benefits to allowing students to express themselves politically by wearing shirts with political statements? What are some potential drawbacks or disadvantages in doing so?
Are there more constructive ways that students can get involved in the political process that could foster cooperative efforts between them and their teachers and even their parents, while at the same time increase their learning apart from wearing shirts with political messages?
Despite your personal position would you wear a shirt advocating a particular candidate if it were allowed by your school or school district? Please give your reasons.  It has been written, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Use your pen and contribute to this discussion.                                       

The Rev. Valentine Williams is the Pastor of Transforming Life Center Church in Pineville, a motivational speaker, seminar/workshop leader, personal development coach, adjunct instructor and the author of Youth Empowered to Succeed. He is also the president of Williams Speaking and Training Services, a people development organization that conducts professional and personal development training and staff development workshops. For questions, comments or speaking engagements contact him at valmyval@yahoo.com.

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