William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal
Making Hazelwood Age-Appropriate: How Viewpoint Neutrality and Recontextualizing the Age-Appropriate Standard Might Save School-Sponsored LGBT Speech
Younger people are identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (henceforth “LGBT”) more than any previous generation. Likewise, there has been a proliferation of free-speech litigation involving student speech that discusses LGBT issues. Beyond just LGBT speech in school, there has been a recent resurgence in the discussion around the relationship between parents, students, school administrators, and school boards when it comes to regulating school-sponsored speech.
Besides the growing number of students identifying as LGBT, protecting LGBT speech in school is of particular importance because the manner in which a school deals with LGBT speech directly influences the mental health and safety of LGBT students. Furthermore, LGBT students face heightened levels of marginalization that manifests through discrimination and harassment from other classmates, school administrators, and educators during school.
This Note will argue that, when dealing with school-sponsored speech, the standard of “age-appropriateness” can be used to wrongfully silence and condemn LGBT student speech and content. Specifically, the Supreme Court should (1) read a requirement of viewpoint neutrality into school-sponsored speech decisions; (2) find that LGBT student speech is not presumptively age-inappropriate; and (3) find that suppression of school-sponsored LGBT speech is presumptively viewpoint discrimination, requiring strict scrutiny analysis, and as such is likely unconstitutional infringement on student speech.
This abstract has been taken from the author's introduction.