The First Amendment This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The First Amendment

by Y. D., Staten Island, NY

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Yet, in many instances these precious words, which have, through the years, carried United States to its progressive and successful future, have been violated by the sacred institution of public education.

The school newspaper is the means by which students can learn about the events in their school or issues concerning their town, region, or even country. Two articles, which caused bitter debate at East Hazelwood high school, dealt with "teenage pregnancy" and "the impact of divorce on students." These articles were prohibited from being published by the school principal because the articles involved students from the high school. The articles shouldn't have been considered any differently from, for example, articles on the recent school dance or the school's victory in a debate competition. The school's newspaper is the means of communication between the students. Therefore, whatever the students feel is important to write about should be allowed in the school newspaper.

It is true that the newspaper is sponsored by the school, and therefore, you may think, should be controlled by the school. However, the students may have different opinions from the school officials. If the school newspaper is to exist at all, it has to be under the students' control and supervision.

Another important argument in defense of freedom of speech is the students' natural right to their own opinions. If free thought is to be brutally suppressed, the newspaper is bound to dry up and eventually die. Even if the students happen to venture into such delicate subjects as "teenage pregnancy" and "the impact of divorce on students," the school officials do not have to throw their arms up and howl. After all, if students are old enough to have condoms distributed to them, if they are old enough to be taught about HIV and drugs, if many of them are old enough to drive cars and even vote, then surely they are old enough to contemplate more serious subjects than the latest fashion or the opening of a new amusement park.

The world that high school is supposedly preparing students for is full of these serious topics. Young adults should be prepared for these dilemmas and what better place than the school, the center of learning, and the school newspaper, the center of communication. If the students feel that such topics as teenage pregnancy should be publicly addressed, then the school officials should be happy to encourage the young adults to discuss them in such a civilized way.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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