On April 28th, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., a student free speech case that every public school district in the country needs to be watching.
This situation arose with a Snapchat message posted while off campus by a then 14-year old girl on a Saturday following the announcement of the results of cheerleading tryouts. That girl (“B.L.”) had been placed on the junior varsity team for her sophomore year of high school, despite an incoming freshman making the varsity squad. Her anger over that decision resulted in a few Snapchat messages, among the messages was a picture of her and a classmate raising their middle fingers with the caption (uncensored in the original message): “F*** school f*** softball f*** cheer f*** everything.” Although Snapchat messages are designed to disappear within 24 hours, one of the recipients took a screenshot of the message, and it made its way to B.L.’s coaches. B.L. was then suspended from the junior varsity team for one year, and she decided to sue. B.L. claims that the suspension violated her constitutional right to free speech.