The Internet is a remarkable tool—so remarkable that using the word “tool” to describe it is painfully inadequate. With a click of a mouse, a few strokes on a keyboard, or a swipe on a screen, the Internet allows instant communication and transaction at any time by anyone in the world. Young people, especially, have embraced the Internet as a means of communicating with peers and interacting with the world around them. In fact, the Internet may be thought of as a social context—similar to school, church, or home—where young people’s identities are influenced and shaped. As a result, what takes place online may have implications in the off-line world.

One of those offline places implicated by Internet expression is the public school system. Public elementary and high schools are unique institutions. They have long been recognized as playing a dominant role in maintaining our democratic society by inculcating in students certain values such as respect, honesty, citizenship, responsibility, and integrity. And, because public students enjoy less constitutional protections on school grounds and during school hours, public schools have been permitted to discourage expression and behavior that conflicts with those values. But there is a disagreement over whether public schools may discourage Internet expression that conflicts with those values. This Comment seeks to explain why permitting schools to limit certain Internet expression—regardless where or when the Internet expression occurred— promotes the educational mission of public schools.

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