Legal Principle at Issue
Whether school officials may prohibit a vulgar and lewd student speech at a student assembly even if the speech does not create a substantial disruption.
The Court held that the school district was “within its permissible authority in imposing sanctions upon Fraser in response to his offensively lewd and indecent speech.”
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A public high school student delivered a speech at a school assembly nominating another student for a student office. During the speech, he referred to his candidate using a graphic and explicit sexual metaphor. The auditorium contained approximately 600 students, including 14-year-old students. Some of the students enjoyed the speech, while others appeared embarrassed. Prior to the assembly, several teachers warned the student against giving the speech because of the inappropriate content.
Importance of Case
The First Amendment does not proscribe a school district from disciplining a student because of their indecent and offensively lewd speech.