New Voices Act state legislation is divided into three parts to reflect three different sets of stakeholders and three different goals. Each part is independent of the others and is based on different case law and situations. Our goal is to approach the New Voices Act as comprehensive educational legislation that will benefit students at each stage of their development, while recognizing the differences between each educational environment. New Voices Act legislation was inspired by the John Wall New Voices Act of North Dakota, which passed unanimously and became law in 2015.
Part One: High Schools – Restore
First, this bill will restore the Tinker standard of student expression in public high schools. The Tinker Standard (1967) protects student speech unless it is libelous, an invasion of privacy or creates a “clear and present danger” or a “material and substantial disruption” of the school. The Hazelwood decision (1988) allowed administrators to easily justify censorship of legitimate speech in curricular settings. The following states have this protection. Click on each state to see their law.
Part Two: Public Colleges – Protect
Secondly, this bill will protect public colleges from dangerous court interpretations that apply the Hazelwood standard to higher education, where almost all students involved are adults. Hosty v. Carter is one such decision, and Illinois passed a law soon after to undo its devastating effects. The following states have this protection. Click on each state to see their law.
Part Three: Private Colleges – Extend
Part three will extend the expression rights that public college students expect to students at private colleges. California’s Leonard Law gave private college students the same rights as their public counterparts. North Dakota had this protection in their initial language, but it was amended out in committee. North Dakota plans to readdress this in the next session.