Teachers & Students Speech Rights

The Issue

Teachers and students have limited rights to freedom of expression. The restrictions on teachers are unique in that they apply not only in their work at school but also in their personal lives. Limiting the right to speak, to express their views, and to question conventional wisdom and popular ideology implicitly teaches about society’s lack of commitment to civil liberties.

Why It Matters

Two basic purposes of education are the development of critical thinking skills and preparation for being an active citizen in democratic society. Our schools undermine these objectives when they offer instruction but fail to be models of democratic values. 

Our Work

The Centre for Free Expression is exploring the extent of restrictions on speech rights of teachers and students in Canadian schools. It is fostering discussions with educators and the public about how schools can better achieve their educational objectives through enhanced freedom of expression rights for teachers and students.


Blog Post

Shorts, Tank Tops, Bread and Circuses

Last month, after nearly a decade, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Canada’s largest, updated its policy on student dress.

By Danielle S. McLaughlin


Learning When Not To Shut Up

What does freedom of expression look like for Canadian kids? Disturbingly, it’s not very clear.

Past Event

Learning When Not To Shut Up

Speaker: Danielle S. McLaughlin

Discussant: Cara Faith Zwibel

Blog Post

Where is Canada’s Tinker?

In February 2019, public school students of the United States marked a major victory. Fifty years ago, the decision in Tinker v.

By Danielle S. McLaughlin

Blog Post

A dialogue with fear

What are we teaching kids about freedom of expression? Are we teaching them to use it or to be very careful around it?

By Danielle S. McLaughlin