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NEA Legal & Employment Guidance

Educator Rights to Support Student Activism

Students across the country are increasingly using their voices to raise awareness of issues that matter to them.
three black students hold a sign that says no racism
Published: April 5, 2023
This resource originally appeared on

Students across the country are increasingly using their voices to raise awareness of issues that matter to them, including climate change and gun violence. Student activists have staged protests over the police killings of unarmed Black people and walkouts over inadequate COVID safety protocols and gun violence.

You have broad protections off duty to support such student activism. At work, however, your rights are much more limited.

Where student demonstrations occur at school or during the school day, you should work with your administrators to have plans ready for student activism.

"Students came to me and said, ‘We don’t see ourselves in our building, and we need your help. We’d like put up a Black Lives Matter banner somewhere in the school.’ So I said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s make it happen.’ We had some obstacles in our way, but now we have a banner that proudly hangs in the cafeteria right now.”

— Rahaf Othman, high school history teacher, Illinois

This page is intended to provide general information. For specific advice, you should always contact your local union or attorney. 

Speak Up For Students and Public Schools

When we act together and lift our voices together in unison, we can improve the lives of children.
Broken pencils

Together, we will claim victories for public education

Join thousands of your fellow Oregon educators in contributing monthly to OEA-PAC and make your voice heard!

Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

The Oregon Education Association (OEA) is a union committed to the cause of providing the basic right of great public education to every student. OEA represents about 41,000 educators working in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public schools and community colleges. OEA’s membership includes licensed teachers and specialists, classified/education support professionals (ESPs), community college faculty, retired educators, and student members. OEA members also belong to the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA).