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Cheerleader’s Snapchat Messages Protected by First Amendment

In the case B.L. v. Mahanoy Area Sch. Dist., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20365, a federal appeals court ruled that a Pennsylvania school district violated a high school cheerleader’s First Amendment rights when it kicked her off the squad for a Snapchat message. The court concluded that the leading U.S. Supreme Court decision on campus speech, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, did not apply to off-campus speech.

In this case a teen cheerleader posted her picture and a friend holding up their middle fingers with the text, “f- – – school f- – – softball f- – – cheer f- – – everything.” The teen was angry partly because she had made the junior varsity squad, rather than the varsity cheer leading team. As a result of the Snapchat post, the cheerleader was suspended from the team for a year.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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