Connecticut high school students are invited to submit entries in the 2012 First Amendment Essay Contest sponsored by the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut, with a top prize of $1,000. This year's essay question is:
A new Connecticut law requires schools to prohibit bullying, including communication that causes “emotional harm.” Explain whether the mandate to stop bullying can be reconciled with the right to freedom of speech and support your argument.
The following resources can be used as a starting point for your research, but you are encouraged to find additional court cases and other sources of information.
An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws. This is a summary of the Connecticut law passed in 2011 to redefine bullying and expand the responsibilities of school officials in preventing it.
Saxe v. State College Area School District: The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a public school district's "anti-harassment" policy violates the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech.
Tinker v. Des Moines: In this landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court set standards still cited today on how schools may and may not restrict student expression.
Although not directly concerned with bullying, Bethel School District v. Fraser and Morse v. Frederick also established limits on student speech.
Essays should not exceed 1,000 words. When writing your essay you should consider your personal experiences and opinions. Winning entries in the past have been based on students' own opinion and experiences as well as on real cases that have helped develop the law.
Deadline for submissions is February 8, 2012.
The contest is a legacy of the Center for First Amendment Rights, which was merged into the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Connecticut in 2008.
How to submit an entry
Send the following information to email@example.com in an email, and attach your essay to the email.
- Your name
- Your home address
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- Your high school
Electronic submissions are strongly encouraged but not required. If you prefer to mail your entry, please send it to ACLU Foundation of Connecticut, 330 Main St., First Floor, Hartford CT 06106.
If you have questions, you may call 860-523-9146 x 8468.
All entries will be judged by a balanced panel of experts who will rate entries based on understanding of the First Amendment, persuasiveness, creativity and grammar.
Prizes will be awarded at the at the Annual Milton-Sorokin Symposium at the University of Connecticut School of Law on April 19, 2012. The Ethel S. Sorokin First Prize is $1,000, second prize is $500 and third is $250.
Submissions are the property of the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut. Entrants give permission to the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut to take photos of winners for publicity purposes