[The U.S. Constitution, as interpreted by federal courts, guarantees the rights of students to express themselves politically in schools. Students may meet and have access to facilities. Students may announce their meetings and invite other students to attend. Opinions of the students are not the opinions of the Loudoun County Public Schools. Schools are under a legal obligation to provide a place for students to meet, access to school communications, and a staff member to serve as guarantor of their right to meet and not be disturbed. If a staff member does not volunteer for the role, a monitor shall be appointed. The staff member who is monitor/advisor to a First Amendment student group is also responsible for group compliance with LCPS requirements for bulletin board placement of announcements, morning announcements, handling of any funds collected, reservation of rooms, student safety, approval of guest speakers, and relaying any email messages addressed to the group. First Amendment groups are self-supporting and do not use taxpayer funds.]From the website of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University:
May students form religious or political clubs in secondary public schools?
Yes, if the school allows other extracurricular (noncurriculum-related) groups. Although schools do not have to open or maintain a limited open forum, once they do, they may not discriminate against a student group because of the content of its speech.
The Equal Access Act (EAA), passed by Congress in 1984 and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in 1990, makes it “unlawful for any public secondary school that receives federal funds and which has a limited open forum to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.”
The EAA covers student-initiated and student-led clubs in secondary schools with a limited open forum. According to the act, “non-school persons may not direct, conduct, or regularly attend activities of student groups.”
A “limited open forum” is created whenever a public secondary school provides an opportunity for one or more “noncurriculum related groups” to meet on school premises during noninstructional time. The forum created is said to be “limited” because only the school’s students can take advantage of it.
Guest speakers are invited by the students. We have a facebook group (SBHS Young Republicans) that is open to SBHS students and is controlled by the students. Opportunities to participate in campaigns are passed along at meetings or on the Facebook page.
The Young Republicans are planning a road trip to Washington DC to visit the office of Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. We have also been invited to Richmond to visit Delegate Tag Greason and State Senator Dick Black during the legislative session. In the past, SBHS Young Republicans have participated in events for Governor Bob McDonnell, Delegate Tag Greason, Supervisor Ralph Buona, Sheriff Mike Chapman and several other public officials and candidates. Visitors have included constitutional officers and leaders from the Loudoun County Republican Committee. Students participated in the Romney-Ryan campaign in 2012, the Comstock campaign, and county races. Members have had paid positions in several campaigns as well.Student President will be elected every year.