April 11, 2007 | By Rebecca Jeschke

A Win for Kids' Free Speech Rights

A ruling in the Indiana Court of Appeals this week gave a middle school student her free speech rights back.

The girl, who is called "A.B." in the court record, had posted comments on a MySpace page criticizing her school's policy on body piercings. The post was full of expletives, which a judge ruled ""obscene" despite any sexual content. The girl was found to be a "delinquent child" and was put on probation for nine months.

However, the girl appealed the ruling, arguing that her post was protected political speech. A three-judge panel agreed: "While we have little regard for A.B.'s use of vulgar epithets, we conclude that her overall message constitutes political speech." The judges threw out the "delinquent child" finding, calling the lower court's conclusion "contravened her right to speak."

A lot of media coverage focuses on the perceived dangers for kids on the Internet. But, expletives or no, this case shows how students use the web to discuss issues of importance to them. It's heartening that judges like these see the importance as well.


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