High School Students Need A Lesson On Free Speech
As high schools prepare to reopen and in-person teaching resumes, students will face many unknowns. One question that must be answered this fall is whether the cancel culture that has plagued the nation will continue in our education institutions.
Sadly, new data suggest that the strong impulse to silence those who might be offensive to some will continue. High school communities should push back against current tendencies, however, and demand students have the chance to confront challenging ideas and experience the discomfort that is at the core of the educational enterprise.
At the university level, it is already well documented that conservative faculty regularly hide their views for fear of retaliation from students and administrators. Students are choosing to keep quiet on campuses and in their classrooms, too, for fear of retaliation from peers and developing a long-term reputation that may affect internships, careers, and social standing.
These trends now extend to high schools, too. Numerous stories have emerged chronicling the fear and intimidation students experience when challenging the progressive ideas prominent in elite New York City schools. The question of who can speak and what ideas can be debated openly has not been well documented in high schools, but new data reveal just how willing high schools students are to silence ideas they dislike or speech they find offensive. A new survey from Next Generation Politics, a New York-based organization aimed at helping high school students foster a culture of cross-partisan dialogue and civic engagement, asked 250 students at private schools around New York about their views on contemporary culture and school life.