Students have constitutional rights, too. The ACLU of Iowa defends young peoples' free speech and expression, religious freedom, reproductive freedom, privacy, freedom from unreasonable searches or seizures, and equal protection. It safeguards against bullying and other discriminatory treatment.
We're especially proud of Tinker v. Des Moines, a landmark win for the ACLU of Iowa at the U.S. Supreme Court that established that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” That ruling has ensured strong student activism in Iowa even today.
Despite this landmark win, constitutional violations are far too common in public schools across Iowa. Lockers and backpacks are searched without reasonable suspicion. Students of color are disproportionately disciplined and often forced into the school-to-prison pipeline by school resource officers (SROs). Certain religions are officially—and wrongly—sanctioned by teachers and school administrators. Students are excluded from certain extracurricular activities based on gender, and LGBTQ students are treated unfairly.
Teachers and administrators are responsible for providing a safe environment for students that is conducive to learning. They also have a responsibility to respect each student's individual rights.