How to Protest in School

When you're being treated unfairly by a teacher or school administrator, you can feel like there aren't any options available to you - after all, if the same person you usually run to when you're being picked on is picking on you, what can you do? To make any progress, you may need to work around a problematic authority figure with your own small-scale "protest" movement. However, care must be taken to ensure your protest doesn't get you in trouble, especially with the person you're protesting!


  1. Image titled Protest in School Step 1
    Attend meetings of your school board. Most states have laws requiring agendas for public meetings be posted prior to meetings. You can ensure that you and your classmates are present when issues important to you are considered.
    • Most meetings have time set aside for the public to speak. DO SO. (You may have to put your name on a sign in sheet.)
    • If the issue can have an economic impact, on the district or the students, discuss how supporting such a measure can save money or is worth the money. For example, uniform dress codes were supposed to lower the cost of clothing for school. Discuss how, in actuality, stores are charging more for the same items because the items are "uniforms" for school.
    • Talk about how the benefits of current policy either do not exist or are non-existent. Example: The school cafeteria has a light that turns red when the noise becomes too loud, which is supposed to deter loud talking. Instead, students are louder because they are afraid they will not be able to complete their statements before being compelled (by the light) to be quiet.
    • Try to get teachers on your side, adding their voices to the students. It will add legitimacy to your statements.
    • Show how what you are protesting, harms people. Example: The dress code requires dark blue pants. (Bring the pants to the meeting). For example: tell about how someone's younger brother got hand-me-down pants that were a little bit faded (not bleached) and got in trouble (or a warning) for that.
  2. Image titled Protest in School Step 2
    If you (or anyone in your group) is over 18, then consider RUNNING for positions on the school board. School Board elections generally have small turnouts. The school board may reconsider its position if it knew the graduating class had candidates for all the positions and/or the class would turn out fully to vote.
  3. Image titled Protest in School Step 3
    Write a letter to the principal or school board (if the problem or concern is wider than just your school). If the letter is about what could be a political issue, send a copy to the local newspaper (Make sure you indicate in your letter that a copy was sent.). Have someone proofread the letter first.
    • Letters sent to the paper should be about "issues," not about events or activities. For instance, you should write explaining about your opposition to the dress code. You should not write about Joe's getting in trouble... because of the dress code.
  4. Image titled Protest in School Step 4
    Wear your protest. Don't break the dress code. Wear something that expresses your discontent. This can include a shirt that says, "Students against the dress code!" or whatever message you are trying to convey.
    • Don't use profanity or poor taste. Don't make any references to drugs or anything clearly illegal. Don't make threats, just simple promises.
    • Don't do anything that disrupts class or the campus.
    • Carry information with you which verifies your right to protest. See the link in the sources section.
  5. Image titled Protest in School Step 5
    Circulate a petition. Have as many of your classmates sign it as possible.
  6. Image titled Protest in School Step 6
    Call on a board member at his/her office (make an appointment). Make sure you bring other student leaders who support your position. You can see one member at a time. More than one or two members of the board in a private meeting may infringe a law against unscheduled or non-public meetings of the board.


  • Attend board meetings on a regular basis, even if you are not speaking at the meeting. After the meetings, introduce yourselves and get to know your board members.
  • When public speaking, dress appropriately. A suit and tie is best (or similar attire for ladies). You should wear a solid color, shirt with a collar and tie, at least. Look your best! Look like you are a leader and that you are respectful, but determined to get action!
  • Get your and other's parents involved as well.
  • It takes bravery to do this, so don't listen to what people have to say.


  • Check your school district's policies and procedures. Follow them.
  • This article should not be construed as legal advice. We are not attorneys.
  • You do not have the right to cause disruptions or disturbances. If any teacher or administrator tries to challenge your right to protest, calmly produce the documents which prove you may proceed. Make sure that the protest itself is the issue, not your behavior!

Things You'll Need

  • Citations of court cases that back up your right to protest. This will prove invaluable in case your principal or a teacher tries to prohibit or punish your activity.
  • Courage to stand up for what you believe.

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: School Stuff