Teenagers Rights At School And Rights When Dealing With The Police
Teenagers often feel powerless at the hands of authority but what they may not realize is that they do have legal rights at school and dealing with the police.
A Teenager’s Rights at School
Even teenagers have a voice, and the Constitution protects students of all ages against discrimination, bullying, racism, and denial of access to educational resources.
Freedom of Speech
The First Amendments protects students from being persecuted for expressing themselves and exercising their right to free speech. School administrators sometimes ignore these rights and try to shut down protests or other forms of free speech, but students have rights, and they can contact the ACLU for protection and enforcement of these laws.
Although schools can dictate certain dress codes, they cannot stand behind dress code rules to force students to conform to gender stereotypes, cover up gang, race or gender discrimination. Often schools use dress codes to target specific groups or individuals and punish or shame them into different behavior. This is a direct violation of the law.
Immigrant or Disability Rights
Federal law prohibits schools from discriminating against undocumented immigrants and denying them access to education. The law also protects students with disabilities. Schools must provide equal access not only to curriculum studies but also field trips, technology, health services and extracurricular activities. Violating this law could be as simple as not providing access or necessary accommodations.
Bullying and LGBT Rights
Bullying and LGBT laws are being solidified across the country. Due to the suicide epidemic amongst teens and young adults, bullying has become a focal point with the finger pointed directly at schools as the first responder. Public schools are required by law to protect all students and ensure a safe, bullying-free, non-discriminatory environment for all teens.
Title IX, passed in 1972 prohibits sex discrimination and protects pregnant students from being denied education. Even with this law in place, schools still push to transfer pregnant students or even worse instigate shaming practices or treat them with disrespect and deny them access to classwork and participation.
Teen’s Rights When Dealing with the Police
Police cannot arrest anyone, including teenagers unless they know you committed a crime. Law enforcement does not have the right to arrest teens for something they suspect they might have done.
Teenagers also have the right to refuse a search. If an officer asks to go to through your belongings or car, you can say no. To protect your rights in a search always say “I do not consent to this search.” The officers may search anyway, but you will have protected yourself. Officers also do not have the right to bully you, violate your civil rights or discriminate based on your race, clothing or a gut feeling that you are “bad.” Searches can only be conducted in relation to a crime.
Officers cannot strip search you either, this is your right.
Along with the rights that teenagers enjoy, they also have responsibilities. Following school rules, is a key component. If you are a teenager and feel that a school is violating your rights or breaking the law, do not take matters into your own hands but contact the ACLU or other authorities to intervene on your behalf.
If the police arrest you, say nothing and ask for a lawyer. The law protects you by allowing you to remain silent.
If law enforcement questions you, don’t run, don’t resist but you also have the right not to answer any of their questions. Do not leave until they permit you to do so. Stay calm and be respectful. You may have to identify yourself based on state law.
If the officer did anything, you don’t feel right about, after you are allowed to leave, write down everything that happened and their name and badge number. Tell a trusted adult, and they will help you sort things out and get protection.
Navigating the tricky waters of being a teenager is sometimes difficult, but if you follow the rules and take proper action to protect your rights and those of others, it will be easier in the long run.