The Student Bill of Rights was written to help students address their rights and freedoms which they feel are not being acknowledged by the public educational system. This bill of rights has been written, edited, reviewed, and perfected by students and youth rights activists. The authors of this document have made a substantial effort to encompass all of the issues and concerns of today’s student through continual review and reconstruction.
We, the students and authors of this document, solemnly believe that students deserve respect, deserve equality, and deserve rights. Rights are the minimum standard by which people and institutions relate to one another, and without that standard, people often fall victim to abuse, discrimination and mistreatment at the hands of the powerful. As a reflection of society, schools are not a refuge from this sad situation, but all too often a magnified reflection of it. Students, as with all people, deserve and require rights to protect themselves from those who would abuse their freedom and equality. To this end, this document was created to protect, expand, and teach others about these rights. It is not from a disrespect for education these rights were drafted, but rather from an honest embrace. Learning is best done in an environment of mutual respect, free minds, and equality. Schools must be incubators of democracy, not bastions from it. It is for these reasons that we support and embrace the Student Bill of Rights.
The Right to Freedom of Existence and Belief
- All students in all schools are to have the undeniable right to the freedom of existence and belief in every imaginable area including, but not limited to, sexual orientation, political, moral, and spiritual beliefs, and the freedom to express such beliefs without fear or influence from our schools, as long as no one’s property or person is physically damaged or violated by said beliefs.
The Right to Freedom of Expression
- All students in all schools have the right to wear any clothing they want, when they want, how they want, without codes of appearance hindering their free expression. Clothes should not materially, substantively, and/or directly disrupt the educational process (to be judged by students and adults).
- All students in all schools have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom to organize protests or petitions of grievances to any employee in the educational system, which includes the school, district, state, or federal staff, and all elected, appointed, official or unofficial leadership.
The Right to Self-Control, Self-Management, and Self-Leadership
- All students in all schools have the right to choose what classes he or she wishes to participate in, without pressure from parents, teachers, guidance, and administration.
- All students have the right to be certified in their skills and educations, regardless of arbitrary requirements imposed by school administrators, the government, or parents. To fulfill this, certificates of completion and class transcripts individual to a given course should be awarded by schools for each course they teach. Students have the right to choose which form of diploma they may pursue, be it individual class, vocational or career-specific, college preparatory, or state awarded. From this follows that students have the right for their certificates of academic preparation to be equally evaluated by any future school, college, or university to which they may apply; and students who choose to pursue diplomas other than a standard high school diploma have the right to have their individual courses evaluated as a measure of their academic achievement.
- All students in all schools have the right of choice to participate or not participate in Parent-Principal-Teacher conferences, to be determined solely by the student affected.
- All students in all schools have the right to deny self-incrimination. No student can be forced, under threat of punishment or otherwise, into signing any documents that state that they confess to having done something against school policy.
- All students in all schools have the right to refuse assistance in school, specifically help in the form of special education curriculum and instruction, medication, or psychiatric help. No public school may expel a student who refuses these or other services. A student may also reserve the right to petition the school for these services if he or she feels that they would help in some way.
- All students in all schools have the right to view on their own accord their school records and to request a copy of the specified documents.
- No school policies, such as zero tolerance, can punish a student for having an educational tool, such as scissors or a compass, or a medication that is useful or needed. If a faculty member thinks a questionable object is unfit for school it can be confiscated (as long as it is returned in a timely manner) without punishment, but no one can deny a student a needed medication. If a student is found with a medication considered unfit to be on their person, a faculty member may take them to the nurse’s office, but cannot personally confiscate it.
- All students in all schools have the right to refuse education on a given day or altogether if they so choose. Laws inhibiting this act are unconstitutional by the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibiting involuntary servitude.
- No school may have a policy requiring a student to complete community service requirements in order to graduate. Any policy doing so violates the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibiting involuntary servitude.
The Right to Physical Safety and Support
- All students in all schools have the right to be free from harassment, assault, or bullying.
- All students in all schools have the right to be free from all forms of “corporal punishment,” including but not limited to “paddling,” i.e., beating the student’s buttocks with a wooden board. It is, further, not enough to offer coercive choices to keep corporal punishment as “an option.” The schools, just as workplaces, need to be entirely free from all forms of corporal punishment and the sexualized and sadistic hostile environment they impart to all students and staff.
- All students in all schools are entitled to immediate medical care if needed. The nurse’s office shall not refuse any student who expresses that they feel that they might vomit, have a seizure, become unconscious, or any other function that may lead them to be a danger to themselves and other students in the classroom setting. Anyone who needs medical care is to be first priority.
- All students in all schools have the right to use the restroom facilities as needed.
- All students in all schools who are the victims of harassment, physical, sexual, or otherwise, assault, or bullying, both verbal and physical, have the right to have their grievances dealt with in a proper manner, including an investigation into said incident, and proper punishment of the culprit, and detriment of any act of vengeance. This includes harassment, assault, and bullying by teachers, staff, deans, guidance counselors, head principals, and vice principals. No student is required to go to a specific person to report such incidences. Furthermore, any staff member who witnesses such acts is obligated to report them. Any student or staff member who reports such incidences has the right to confidentiality.
- All students in all schools who are attacked by another have the right to fight back in self-defense and not be punished, so long as deadly force is not used. If a student who fought in self-defense does receive punishment, they reserve the right to acquire counsel and file a lawsuit against the school. This right extends to student vs staff confrontations.
The Right to Separation of School, Home, and Community
- All students in all schools have the right to organize, promote and participate in organizations of their choice on or off of school property, so long as they are law abiding.
- All students in all schools have the rights to seek sponsorships for their organizations from outside sources such as private businesses, church groups, and community centers. This right extends to sports teams, clubs organizations, and to music and art departments. This is to ensure that students are able to enjoy activities of their choice without having to worry about funding being cut partially or completely from the school’s budget.
- All students in all schools have the right to refuse to participate in any scholastic activity that requires communication in any form about family finances, home life, and/or the occupation of the students parents.
- All students in all schools have the right to refuse to have their picture taken, whether for academic or yearbook purposes.
- All students in all schools have the right to the separation of authority between home and school. Unless the school has strong suspicion of abuse (sexual, physical, and/or psychological), neglect, and/or endangerment, they may not question a student about his or her home life. If the school has evidence of abuse, they are to report it immediately to the authorities.
The Right to Privacy
- All students in all schools have the right to refuse drug testing unless there is a court ordered warrant for it. Refusal to take a drug test is not to be considered sufficient reason for a warrant.
- All students have the right to refuse searches of their person and personal belongings such as purses, book bags, and lockers unless there is a court ordered warrant for it. Refusal to allow a search is not to be considered sufficient reason for a warrant. Furthermore, all students have the right to have a purse or bookbag in their possession, and also the right to the temporary ownership of any available locker.
- All students have the right to have their sexual orientation or other sensitive information kept from their parents or guardians until the student tells them him/herself, unless that information violates laws, such as drug abuse.
The Right to Fair, Equitable, Adequate, and Appropriate Learning
- All students in all schools have the right to be provided an adequate and well balanced education regarding the topics of drugs, alcohol, and human sexuality. Students and only the students are to decide whether they want to learn these topics. A parent may not withhold their child’s education if the student is willing and wants to learn. Likewise a parent cannot force their child if the student does not want to learn, and nor can the school, unless it is considered necessary for a degree in a particular subject.
- All students in all schools have the right to an uninterrupted education. No school will refuse to enroll a student or deny a student their education because of their living arrangements or home situation. A parent may not unenroll their child from school if the student wants to continue to attend. No law shall be passed or enforced that directly or indirectly denies a student their right to an education.
- All students in all schools have the right to a quality education that covers the disciplines, including music and the arts, and is fair and balanced. Teachers have the right to teach and cover more material than what the school administration has prescribed, so long as it is within the limits of the law and all the required material is covered.
The Right to Democratic Participation
- All students in all schools have the right and responsibility for being involved in educational decision-making at all levels, including decision-making affecting them personally, in their classrooms, local schools, and at the district, state, and federal levels.
- All students in all schools have the right to be led by the moral and political leadership of their peers while at school. No adult may directly or indirectly impede or influence the activities of a student governing body.
- All students in all schools have the right to express their concerns and complaints regarding a teacher’s or staff member’s performance, and have their opinions taken into consideration.
- All students in all schools have the right to participate throughout their school and the education system. This includes the right to representation, participation, and meaningful involvement as education planners, evaluators, teachers, researchers, advocates, and as community organizers focusing on education.
- All students in all schools have the right to full participation in all forms of formalized education decision-making, including committees, site councils, school boards, and other venues. Students must be allowed, encouraged, and able to full participation, including voting in school boards, budget referendums, and other activities, and in all areas of education, including budgets, personnel, and curricula.
- All students in all schools have the right to student-led courts. These courts have the right to privacy and effectiveness, and no adult may directly or indirectly impede or influence their ability, authority, and sustainability without permission of the student governing body.
The Right to Participate in any School Sponsored Activities
- All students have the right to participate in any school sponsored activity.
- No school may deny any student the right to participate in any sport based on their grades, performance in said sport, or membership in any student based group.
- No school may deny any student the right to participate in any sport on the basis of gender if the sport is not offered for both males and females.
- No school may deny any student participation in school athletics if they are involved in a community athletics team.
The Right to Access
- All students in all schools have the right to knowledge about this document and the values, perspectives, and knowledge contained herein. No school has the right to keep a student ignorant about his or her freedoms within this document, or any other document that contains information such as rules or rights the student has. No employee of a school may lie to a student about his/her rights, or anything contained in these documents.
This Student Bill of Rights is a collaborative effort of the Student Rights Task Force. This Task Force is sponsored by National Youth Rights Association in conjunction with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, the Freechild Project, and Oblivion.net. Membership is open to individuals and organizations who commit their energy and resources to promoting the Student Bill of Rights.