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Samuel Crankshaw, Communications Manager, ACLU of Kentucky  |  (646) 820-4548 (call/text)

May 5, 2022

Credit: Nick Quan /

Youth rights handbook

ACLU of Kentucky writes open letter reminding schools of students' free speech rights

The ACLU of Kentucky today wrote an open letter to Kentucky school officials reminding them of their obligation to uphold students’ free speech rights. Students at several schools have walked out in protest of the draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court earlier this week.

The ability to engage in current events and be introduced to issues of national and global importance is a crucial component of well-rounded education. Students should be able to engage with these issues appropriately and freely. The letter states that it “is understandable and indeed expected that students may have strong reactions...and their efforts to understand, engage, and speak out about that should be encouraged, not deterred.”

The letter continues, reminding school officials that if they choose to punish students engaged in protests or walkouts, they must not discipline them more harshly than students who miss classes for other unexcused reasons. “To do so would amount to a content-based regulation of speech, which would violate students’ constitutional rights. As we are sure you are aware, students ‘do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’”

Kentucky students should review the ACLU of Kentucky’s youth rights handbook to learn more about their rights at school, including topics on free speech, religious expression, privacy, gender identity and sexual orientation, dress codes, and more.

Read the letter in the PDF below.