Student Journalists Encourage New Voices Legislation

Fernanda+Kurrie+and+Luke+Kerr++discuss+the+classes+at+the+TAJE+convention+in+San+Antonio.+Several+of+the+leaders+and+sponsors+of+New+Voices+are+present+at+the+convention.

Delayne Fierro

Fernanda Kurrie and Luke Kerr discuss the classes at the TAJE convention in San Antonio. Several of the leaders and sponsors of New Voices are present at the convention.

A student press rights activist group, known as New Voices, works towards securing legislation which would prevent the censorship of high school news publications.

“In certain instances, I think that students should have a voice,” senior Kelsey Roberts said. “It has to apply to the school or what is important to students there.”

In a supreme court case known as Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, a precedent stating if a school principal prohibits the publishing of an article or censors any sort of media deemed inappropriate, it does not violate the student’s first amendment rights.

“Censorship would keep us ignorant,” senior Kelsey Roberts said. “If we never knew it was a problem, we’d never know how to address it.”

The Hazlewood precedent only applies to student press publications and cannot limit the free speech of individual students voicing their opinion on a public platform.  

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“Students are allowed to voice their free speech on campus as long as they don’t disrupt the learning environment deprive others from getting a free and appropriate education,” assistant principal John Contreras said. “That is a law that, as administrators, we adhere to.”

The New Voices organization started after administration at Prosper High School repeatedly told students to take down articles they deemed inappropriate. Some students including Neha Madhira organized the movement for journalistic protections at the high school level.

“I think there are some topics that just aren’t allowed to be discussed at school,” Roberts said. “I think if there is something that is harming the students then it shouldn’t be something that is for lease. I think the administrator or teacher should have something to say.”