Punish Or Protect? Judge Rules On Teen Girls' Racy Facebook Photos

Get ready to start canceling your daughters’ Facebook accounts.  A federal judge has ruled that teenage girls’ ability to publicly publish racy pictures of themselves is protected free speech.

Two high school volleyball players, 15 and 16, published photos of themselves wearing lingerie and sucking on phallic-shaped lollipops, among other very suggestive poses.  After learning of the photos, their principal suspended them from all extracurricular activities, including playing on the volleyball team.  He later reduced the extracurricular suspensions to not allowing them to play in a handful of games, but the girls felt that wasn’t enough and fought back by suing the school with the support of the ACLU.  Yesterday, an Indiana judge found the school’s actions in violation of the girls’ first amendment rights.

As reported at Forbes.com, the judge ruled that, ” … it’s unconstitutional for schools to ‘discipline [students] for out of school conduct that brings ‘dishonor’ or ‘discredit’ upon the school.’”  Even the school’s code of conduct did not apply, with the court finding the girls’ behavior would not have disrupted the school’s activities or its students.

Now the girls have their teams and activities back, but one wonders how their actions will affect them in the future, regardless of the positive outcome of their court case.  Do they know that college admissions offices and employers check Facebook pages and conduct internet searches these days?  Earlier this year, Kaplan released a study that found 80% of college admissions officers check prospective students’ Facebook pages.   And, Forbes says, the Federal Trade Commission recently set a standard when it gave one company “… the green light to screen job applicants based on their Facebook and Twitter postings. The [company] is now able to keep track of negative findings about a person’s Facebook activity, such as joining a racist social networking group, and keep it on file for up to seven years.”   The girls’ punishment by the school may have been reversed, but they could be in for a different kind of penalty down the road.

If you were one of the parents of these girls, would you have helped them sue the school, or would you have supported their temporary team suspensions as an important part of the lesson for such risky behavior?

Photo credit: stock.xchng/modish

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