Nebraska school official closes newspaper over LGBTQ issues

GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska (AP) — Nebraska school administrators shut down the school’s award-winning student newspaper, which published articles and editorials on LGBTQ issues, just days after it was last published, threatening press freedom. Advocates have come to call the move an act of censorship.

A 54-year-old Saga newspaper staffer at Northwest Public Schools was informed of the removal of the newspaper on May 19. The Grand Island Independent reportedThree days earlier, the newspaper published its June issue with an article titled “Pride and Prejudice: LGBTQIA+” on the origins of Pride Month and the history of homophobia.It also includes an editorial against a Florida law banning some lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity, which critics “Don’t call me gay”

Officials overseeing the Grand Island-based school district did not disclose when the decision was taken or why. However, in an email from a school official to The Independent canceling printing services for the May 22 student newspaper, it said, “Because the school board and superintendent are unhappy with the editorial content of the previous issue. ” was written.

The paper’s demise also came a month after its staff were reprimanded for publishing students’ preferred pronouns and names. I told you.

Emma Smith, Saga’s deputy editor in 2022, said the student newspaper was informed that the ban on preferred names had been made by the Board of Education. It had a direct impact on gender student Marcus Pennell. He learns that the byline was changed to his real name, “Meghan” Pennell, against his wishes in the June issue.

“It was the first time the school officially said, ‘We don’t want you here,'” Pennell said. “Look, that was a big deal for me.”

Northwest Principal PJ Smith referred the Independent’s question to District Superintendent Jeff Edwards. The superintendent declined to answer questions about when and why student papers were removed, saying only that it was an “administrative decision.”

Some school board members have publicly spoken out against LGBTQ content in Saga Prefecture, including board chairman Dan Reiser, who said “most people are upset.” included.

Board Vice President Zach Madder quoted directly from the pro-LGBTQ op-ed, saying that if district taxpayers had read the final issue of the saga, they would be like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on in our school? It was like, ‘What?'” he added.

Sarah Lipps, an attorney at the Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was “a half-baked attempt to censor and discriminate against students based on disagreements with views and articles published in student newspapers.” It sounds like,” he said.

Attorney Max Cauchu of the Nebraska Press Association, which specializes in media law in Nebraska and Kansas, said press freedom is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“The government’s decision to abolish the student newspaper violates the right of students to freedom of speech. Unless you give a reason,” said Kauch. “It’s hard to imagine what a good reason for that would be.”