If I write something on my schools facebook page can that’s offensive, can they punish me?

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If I write something on my schools facebook page can that’s offensive, can they punish me?

Could I sue if they punish me?

Asked on October 4, 2010 under Personal Injury, Pennsylvania

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The school district's policy will determine what punishment you will receive for writing something offensive on your school's Facebook page.

Although you do have a right to Freedom of Expression under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, this right is not absolute and is balanced against the competing interest of the school regarding student safety and discipline.  The First Amendment does NOT give someone the right to yell fire in a crowded theater.  You would not have the right to disregard school policies and write something offensive on the Facebook page.  The term "offensive" may be subject to a legal challenge as vague and overbroad.  If the school has a specific policy regarding what is prohibited as inappropriate on the Facebook page or in other contexts, the language of the regulations may be sufficiently specific and narrowly drawn to overcome a legal challenge of vague and overbroad.

Assuming that you are a minor and a student at the school, it is unlikely you would prevail in a lawsuit against the school if the school punishes you for writing something "offensive" on the school's Facebook page as the school would have a strong interest in maintaining discipline and student safety.  Schools are given greater latitude in these matters than society at large which would make it more difficult for you to prevail in a legal challenge to student discipline. 

 


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