The material provided here is for basic informational purposes only. It is not meant to be and should not be taken as legal advice, nor should you rely on this information instead of seeking the advice of an attorney. The legal issues surrounding civil rights and civil liberties are among the most complex in the law, and a person’s rights may vary from case to case depending on small and subtle details. Only a lawyer who has taken the time to become fully aware of the facts in a given case can provide you with sound legal advice.

If you feel your rights have been violated, please let us know the details by filling out a complaint form on our website. You may also want to contact a private attorney, especially if there are important time constraints. The law imposes time limits on most actions to defend your rights, so it is important to act quickly. If you do not know how to reach an attorney, access the Lawyer Referral Service of the Utah Bar Association. They will be able to direct you to a lawyer experienced in the type of law involved in your case.

If you are under 18, finding a lawyer can be difficult. Many lawyers do not represent minor clients without a parent’s permission. If it is possible, speak to a trusted adult about finding a lawyer. There are also free or low cost legal assistance available in Utah and the location and hours can be access through our website by clicking here.

This is a work in progress.



Right to an Education

Freedom of Speech & Expression

  • Student Demonstrations
  • Student clubs
  • Know Your Rights!
  • Newspapers and handouts
  • Online speech
  • Know Your Rights!
  • Censorship
  • Know Your Rights!
  • Dress codes
  • Know Your Rights!

Religious Freedom

  • Religion in school
  • LDS Seminary
  • Know Your Rights!
  • Intelligent design
  • Moments of silence
  • Know Your Rights!
  • Prayer
  • Sporting events
  • Graduation speech
  • Religious dress
  • Religious observances
  • Know Your Rights!

Search and Seizure

  • Property searches
  • Lockers
  • Backpacks and purses
  • Cars
  • Strip searches and searches of one’s person
  • Searches of the general student population
  • Canine searches
  • Drug testing
  • Metal detectors
  • Police in schools
  • Interrogations


  • Racial and religious discrimination (coming soon)
  • Harassment and bullying
  • Sexual harassment
  • Peer harassment
  • Harassment based on sexual orientation
  • Gender discrimination
  • Know Your Rights!
  • Pregnancy


  • Suspension and expulsion
  • Permanent expulsion
  • Appealing a suspension or expulsion
  • Disabled students
  • Clearing student records
  • Corporal punishment

Student Records

Military Recruitment

  • On campus
  • Release of student information
  • Know Your Rights!
  • BeNOW database

The Last Word

Endnotes and citations



This webpage outlines your rights as a public school student.

Over the years, the courts have defined which limits on student rights are constitutional and which are not. Schools must balance the need to provide a safe and orderly environment against a student’s rights to privacy, free speech, and religion. As a result, you have fewer rights in school than you do outside of school. The law constantly changes, and the trend has been towards further limiting student rights, especially in light of growing concerns about violence, gangs, and drugs in schools.

With so many unresolved issues muddying the legal landscape, the ACLU is working vigorously to defend and extend the rights and protections of students.

Here’s what you can do to protect your rights in school:

  • Read your school’s policy guide or student handbook. You can get a copy from the Board of Education, the school’s main office, or even online.
  • Talk to your parents, teachers or other school officials if you think someone’s rights have been violated.
  • Learn more about your rights. Contact a counselor, teacher, attorney, or the ACLU for more information. The ACLU of Utah has numerous publications available in print and online at
  • Become a member of the ACLU.

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