TRI In The News
Free Speech Attorney Weighs in on Albemarle Dress Code Debate
Free speech expert John Whitehead from the Rutherford Institute said attempts to ban Confederate imagery in a school dress code have received differing results in federal courts.
A group called the Hate-Free Schools Coalition is pushing Albemarle County to ban students from wearing Confederate or neo-Nazi imagery.
The Albemarle County School Board meeting ended abruptly Thursday night before the board could discuss the dress code. After the first speaker from the Hate-Free Schools Coalition went up to the podium during public comment, the community started to snap their fingers and clap in support of what she was saying. However, school board members said this was against their public comment policy.
School board chair Kate Acuff has argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that students maintain freedom of speech inside schools and that free expression extends to dress code.
Whitehead says there are ways to ban certain items, however.
"If the schools can prove that any symbol will incite violence they can ban it," Whitehead said. "The courts have ruled that. But just being offended is not enough."