Student newspaper closed for LGBTQIA+ coverage

School officials from Northwest Public Schools in Nebraska closed the viking saga high school student newspaper on May 19 after the paper published an issue with two stories covering LGBTQIA+ issues. journalism students at the Saga contacted the Student Press Legal Center hotline following the censorship of his newspaper, and has been working closely with the SPLC for support.

Now, her story has made national headlines after local reporter Jessica Votipka published a research piece on August 24, investigating the case.

School officials first criticized the Saga in April for publishing students’ preferred pronouns and names in both signatures and stories. For its last issue of the year, the Saga published two stories in May that the administration claimed were “inappropriate”: a piece covering the history of Pride month and homophobia, and an editorial opposing Florida’s parental rights law in education, commonly known as “Don’t Say Gay”.

Administrators then turned off the 54-year-old user. prize newspaper along with the related journalism class at Northwest.

Zach Mader, vice president of the Northwest Public Schools board, said the independent She recalls that there was talk of shutting down the student newspaper in the event that the school district loses its ability to control what it deems “inappropriate content.”

“In the last issue that came out this year, there was … a little bit of hostility between some,” Mader said. “There were editorials that were essentially, I guess I would say, LGBTQ.”

Mike Hiestand, senior legal counsel for the SPLC, said the Saga The case is a clear example of censorship of the student press, which has become a growing issue in the state.

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“By far the first thing that will get the student media censored is a story that criticizes the school or that administrators somehow think makes them look bad,” Hiestand said. The independent.

Hadar Harris, executive director of the SPLC, said the censorship and lack of transparency at Northwest is not an isolated case, especially in Nebraska.

“Nebraska has become the center of a series of egregious censorship cases in recent years, but the in series The case also indicates a national trend of administrators increasingly censoring LGBTQIA+-related content, including chosen names and pronouns,” Harris said. “We are increasingly concerned about this trend and hope that the senators of the unicameral state legislature will take the necessary steps to ensure that censorship against student media does not happen in the future.”

Some legislators, like Senator Adam Morfeld, have already been pushing legislation like the Student Journalism Protection Act in Nebraska to counter censorship trends against student media in the state.

SPLC condemns Northwest’s acts of censorship towards the Saga and will continue to work with journalism students and newspaper advisers to ensure their right to a free press.

SPLC has connected students with the Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and will continue to follow up with the school district.


The Student Press Law Center (splc.org, @splc) is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works at the intersection of law, journalism, and education to support, promote, and defend the rights of student journalists and their advisors in high school and college. Based in Washington, DC, the Student Press Law Center provides free information, training, and legal assistance to student journalism and the educators who work with them.