For Counter Recruiters

The rights of counter-recruiters are governed by the same guidelines that apply to First Amendment activities in general, except when the activities are at a school.

The courts have defined several types of forums that allow differing levels of restrictions on speech. Public forums, like parks and sidewalks, allow the narrowest restrictions. For example, non-students have a right to stand on public property outside a school entrance and hand out fliers or hold signs, as long as they don't impede pedestrians or vehicle traffic or cause a disruption of the educational process inside the school (e.g., using a loud bullhorn). For more information on this type of activity, see Guide to High School Leafleting and Petitioning.

Schools in general are non-public forums. Students and staff have a right to be present on school property, but the access of others is subject to the approval of school officials.

If a school establishes a forum for any outsiders to address students on a topic, it can limit access to only those who will address the same topic. Examples of forums are a career fair, a lunch time information table, a bulletin board, a classroom presentation, a bulletin announcement, and an assembly.

While schools can dictate who will be given access to a forum, they cannot practice viewpoint-based discrimination by only allowing one side to be presented on a controversial subject. It is this principle of equal access that provides a legal basis for schools to give counter-recruiters the same access that is given to military representatives. For more information on equal access for counter-recruiters, see COUNTER RECRUITER ACCESS TO HIGH SCHOOLS.

Resources

 Revised 06/23/2016

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