My Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in School: Freedom of Expression, Privacy, and More

Student Protests & Political Speech

Know your rights about Student Protests & Political Speech Can I be disciplined for participating in a walkout or off-campus protest? Because the law requires you to attend school, the administration can take corrective action against you for missing school, even if you miss school to participate in a political protest. However, the school cannot …

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Social Media Rights

Do I have the right to access social media while I’m at school? SOMETIMES. Your school can set rules about when it is appropriate to use devices that allow you to access social media services. Some schools may prohibit personal cell phones on campus. Some schools may block certain sites on their computers and networks. …

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Cell Phone Privacy

Do I have the right to keep what’s on my phone private? YES. The privacy of your phone (or tablet or laptop), as well as your accounts with services like Instagram or Snapchat, is protected both by the United States and California Constitutions and by the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA)1. Can my school …

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Searches of Students

Do I have the right to refuse to be searched? YES. You always have a right to refuse a search and you should make clear that a search is taking place over your objection. But you should not use physical resistance to stop a search. Can my school search me without my consent? YES, but …

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Student Expression

The Basics What is freedom of speech? Freedom of speech is the right to express your ideas and beliefs the way you choose. Freedom of speech protects what you say, what you write, and how you express yourself. It protects your ability to protest, meet with other people, and organize. Do I have the right …

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School Dress Codes & Uniforms

Can my school make a dress code policy? YES1. But your school’s dress code policy cannot be used to disfavor a specific message or single out one particular group of students. Please note charter schools may be subject to different rules than those below. Can my school enforce its dress code policy against only some …

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