Thursday, September 15, 2022

School Shut down Its Student Newspaper

August 31, 2022

Former Viking Saga newspaper staff members
Marcus Pennell (left) and Emma Smith (right)
 display a pride flag outside of Northwest High School.

A central Nebraska high school shut down its student newspaper shortly after it published an LGBTQ-dedicated issue

Journalism students at Northwest High School published an LGBTQ-dedicated issue on May 16.

Three days later, school administrators moved to shut down the paper.

School officials also told transgender student reporters to use their birth names in their bylines.

A school district in Grand Island, Nebraska, shut down its high school newspaper in June after students published an issue with LGBTQ topics and were previously ordered to use their birth names in their bylines.

As Pride Month approached, journalism students at Northwest High School's newspaper, Viking Saga, planned to dedicate a few pages on LGBTQ-related subjects for the final issue of the academic year.

The issue which was reviewed by Insider featured an editorial column on the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill in Florida that critics billed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, explored the "science of gender," and briefly delved into the history of the LGBTQ movement.

The June issue was published on May 16 before the last day of school.

Three days later, a notification was sent to staff and students saying that the newspaper was being shut down, The Grand Island Independent first reported. A school district administrator then canceled the Saga's printing services on May 19, according to the local news outlet.

The district employee said in an email to The Independent that they were told "the (journalism and newspaper) program was cut because the school board and superintendent are unhappy with the last issue's editorial content."

Northwest Public Schools Board Vice President Zach Mader told the news outlet that there has been consideration of getting rid of the newspaper if "we were not going to be able to control content that we saw (as) inappropriate."

"The very last issue that came out this year, there was… a little bit of hostility amongst some," Mader said. "There were editorials that were essentially, I guess what I would say, LGBTQ."

Mader did not immediately respond to Insider for a request for comment.

Mike Hiestand, the senior legal counsel at the Student Press Law Center who has been in touch with the Northwest High journalism students and staff, described the incident as a textbook case of censorship.

It made (school administrators) uncomfortable," he said. "I think they were concerned with perhaps community reaction to it, I'm not sure, But their response to things that the students were writing, that they didn't like, was simply to shut the entire program down. You don't see a much more aggressive form of censorship than that."

1 comment:

  1. You can guess what the school adm. thought. "What will the powerful people think of 'how we control the students'? We cant censor the paper, so we will eliminate the program. Constitutionally 'safe' and legal!
    Same tactics and neurosis worry from the 'rents/staff as in the 1970's during 'Nam. Papers went 'underground'.
    OTOH, how do young persons learn to think on their own, in their own, personal place in THEIR time?
    Look at MOM and DAD, voting in 'sheep-like' lockstep for Fascist Dictator Golfer tee-rump. Oops, there are TWO 'Fascist Dictator Golfers in the world now-- take your pick.
    And how do the kids retaliate with a BIG FAT F-U ?
    Ten minutes after 'they' 'drop the axe' on the School Paper(?) The students have moved all the files onto the 'net/dark net, where Mom and Dad and the school staff are lost and clueless..... And the gloves really come off...
    The more things change......