First Amendment sometimes protects ‘instructional speech’ — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

First Amendment sometimes protects ‘instructional speech’

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A teacher employed by the government has a First Amendment right to speak as she wishes during instructional time, and her employer must have a sound educational reason for punishing such speech.

Recent case:
June Sheldon worked as a community college biology instructor. The college received a student complaint about one of her classroom lectures involving whether homosexuality was an inherited trait, a result of one’s environment or a combination of nature and nurture.

Sheldon was terminated and sued, alleging that her lecture was protected First Amendment speech.

The court refused to dismiss the case. If the college terminated the instructor for her lecture, it would have to show a legitimate pedagogical reason for doing so. (Sheldon v. Dhillon, et al., No. 08-03438, ND CA, 2009)

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