This article originally appeared at the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange on December 7, 2015.


School officials treat rap music as a serious threat to the school environment. Fear and misunderstanding of, as well as bias against, this highly popular and lucrative musical art form negatively shape their perspectives on this vital aspect of youth culture.

As a result, students who express themselves through rap music in a way that challenges the schoolhouse setting risk the possibility of suspension, permanent exclusion and referral to the criminal justice system.

The ongoing case of Taylor Bell is the latest and most complex battleground on which this issue is playing out.