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Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 478 U.S. 675, 106 S. Ct. 3159, 92 L. Ed. 2d 549, 1986 U.S.

Brief Fact Summary. A student gave a nominating speech in a general school assembly that described another candidate with strong sexual metaphors.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Schools may determine that certain modes of expression are inappropriate and subject the speech to sanctions.

Facts. Fraser (Respondent) gave a speech nominating his friend for a student body office at the school assembly. He described his friend’s attributes by using sexually explicit metaphors. Although a teacher reviewed the speech, and the speaker was warned against giving the speech, Respondent chose to do it anyway. After the speech, one teacher complained that he had to interrupt his regular class to explain and review sections of the speech. Respondent was subsequently suspended from school for three days.

Issue. Is a high school student’s lewd speech protected by the First Amendment?

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