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May I write my political opinion to a newspaper?


Q: I am a teacher in Virginia. I would like to write a letter about the upcoming election to my local newspaper but I don't want it to hurt my job. May I express my opinion in the local paper on a political issue?

A: Yes, you may write a letter to the newspaper about the upcoming election.

Teachers do not lose constitutional rights by accepting public employment. Speech on a matter of public concern is protected by the Constitution.
However, I must caution school employees that legal issues are complex and some speech is not constitutionally protected. Constitutional protection turns on whether speech relates to matters of public concern or to the personal interest of the school employee. Calling oneself a "concerned taxpayer" or "concerned educator" may not elevate personal complaints or disagreements to legitimate matters of public concern.

If you want a second opinion (which is always a good idea), show a draft of your letter to your UniServ Director prior to sending it to the newspaper.
It's quite clear that an election is a matter of public concern. And your perspective is important to the debate. Make your voice heard and help educate the public.

I look forward to reading your letter in the newspaper.


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