Teens Sue High School That Punished Them for Racy MySpace Pics
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2009 Nov 03
I was waiting to see an article along these lines show up, where teenagers end up suing someone or some entity for being punished over sexting...and here it is. I'm sure it's not the first case and I'm sure it won't be the last. In this case, there's no question about what the teens did. They posted racy photos to their MySpace profiles. Those pictures ended up in the hands of their high school's principal. The principal acted in accordance with school policy and punished the girls by not allowing them to participate from fall semester extracurricular activities.
The girls (with the help of the ACLU) have now sued the school and
principal claiming that their rights of expression have been violated
and that their actions had no effect or impact on the school.
What do you think should happen?
do believe that some students who have sexted or posted racy photos of
themselves on their social networking profiles have been treated too
harshly (through criminal prosecution.) But, it does seem reasonable to
me for schools to set behavioral expectations that apply to students
whether or not they are on campus. Suspension from a semester's worth
of extracurricular activities does not strike me as excessive
And what might be the result to the broader culture should students who sue win cases like this one?
Two Indiana teenagers have sued their school district after they were punished for posting suggestive photos on MySpace.
The girls, 10th-graders at Churubusco High School in Churubusco, Indiana, say they were humiliated after the school banned them from fall semester extracurricular activities and forced them to apologize to the all-male Athletics Board (composed of varsity coaches). The girls also had to attend three counseling sessions.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed the proposed class-action suit on behalf of the girls and all present and future students at the school who participate or may participate in extracurricular activities. The ACLU argues the district violated the girls' First Amendment rights and should not have punished them for activities conducted outside school. The suit names the girls' high school, school district and principal.
According to the school's student handbook, the principal "may exclude any student-athlete from representing Churubusco High School if his/her conduct in or out of school reflects discredit" upon the school or creates a "disruptive influence on the discipline, good order, moral, or educational environment" at the school.
The ACLU says the photos were meant to be a joke shared among friends and had "no effect on the school whatsoever." The girls' self-expression has been curbed as a result of the school's activity, the suit alleges.