FNAA Student Expression: Distribution of Non-School Literature


Activities such as distributing literature, displaying signs, petitioning for change, and disseminating information concerning issues of public concern are protected by the First Amendment. Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network, 519 U.S. 357, 117 S. Ct. 855 (1997) (recognizing leafletting and commenting on matters of public concern as protected speech); Boos v. Barry, 485 U.S. 312, 108 S. Ct. 1157 (1988) (recognizing public issue signs as protected speech); Meyer v. Grant, 486 U.S. 414, 108 S. Ct. 1886 (1988) (recognizing the solicitation of signatures for a petition drive as protected speech)


The School may prohibit expression by students if:

  1. It materially and substantially interferes with school activities;
  2. It materially and substantially interferes with the rights of other students or teachers; or
  3. The School can demonstrate reasonable cause to believe that the expression would engender material and substantial interference.


The School shall not discriminate based on the viewpoint expressed in private, student-to-student, non-disruptive speech. Morgan v. Swanson, 659 F.3d 359 (5th Cir. 2011) (recognizing private, non-disruptive, student-to-student speech expressing a religious viewpoint as protected speech)


The School may limit student expression in manner, place, or time by means of reasonable, viewpoint-neutral regulations.

Shanley v. Northeast Indep. Sch. Dist., 462 F.2d 960 (5th Cir. 1972); Canady v. Bossier Parish Sch. Bd., 240 F.3d 437 (5th Cir. 2001)

Area of Distribution

The Principal shall designate an area where materials that have been approved for distribution by students in accordance with this policy may be made available or distributed. The Principal may develop reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions regarding the distribution of materials at designated areas.

Prior Review

The School may subject student expression to prior screening under clear and reasonable regulations. All written material over which the School does not exercise control and that is intended for distribution to students shall be submitted to the Principal or designee for prior review according to the following procedures:


  1. In order to be considered for distribution, materials shall include the name of the organization or individual sponsoring the distribution.
  2. Using the standards below at LIMITATIONS ON CONTENT, the Principal or designee shall approve or reject submitted material within two school days of the time the material is received.
  3. The student may appeal the principal’s decision in accordance with TSBVI Policy FNG, beginning at Level Two.

Students who fail to follow these procedures may be disciplined in accordance with the FO series and the Student Code of Conduct.


The School shall not prohibit student expression solely because other students, teachers, administrators, or parents may disagree with its content.

Nonschool materials shall not be distributed if:

  1. The materials are obscene, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate for the age and maturity of the audience.
  2. The materials endorse actions endangering the health or safety of students.
  3. The distribution of such materials would violate the intellectual property rights, privacy rights, or other rights of another person.
  4. The materials contain defamatory statements about public figures or others.
  5. The materials criticize Board members or school officials or advocate violation of school rules.
  6. The materials substantially interfere with school activities;
  7. The materials substantially interfere with the rights of other students or teachers;
  8. The School can demonstrate reasonable cause to believe that the expression would engender such material and substantial interference.
  9. The materials advocate imminent lawless or disruptive action and are likely to incite or produce such action.
  10. The materials include hate literature that scurrilously attacks ethnic, religious, or racial groups, and similar publications aimed at creating hostility and violence.

Adopted:          5/25/05

Amended:        6/5/13