Nebraska school officials shuttered a student newspaper over its coverage of LGBTQ issues, The Associated Press reports.
The staff at Northwest Public School’s 54-year-old award-winning Saga newspaper were told that the newspaper is being eliminated three days after printing its June edition.
The June paper included an article titled “Price and prejudice: LGBTQIA+” that discussed the origins of Pride Month and homophobia.
Another article included criticism of Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Officials did not say why they are discontinuing the paper but an email from a school employee said it was “because the school board and superintendent are unhappy with the last issue’s editorial content.”
Blowup over pronouns:
The paper was also eliminated a month after district officials reprimanded its staff for publishing students’ preferred names and pronouns.
Officials directed students to only use names assigned at birth, according to the report.
The decision particularly affected Marcus Pennell, a transgender student whose byline was changed to “Meghan” Pennell.
“It was the first time that the school had officially been, like, ‘We don’t really want you here,’” Pennell told the AP. “You know, that was a big deal for me.”
Critics decry censorship:
“It sounds like a ham-fisted attempt to censor students and discriminate based on disagreement with perspectives and articles that were featured in the student newspaper,” Sara Rips, an attorney for the Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the AP.
“The decision by the administration to eliminate the student newspaper violates students’ right to free speech, unless the school can show a legitimate educational reason for removing the option to participate in a class … that publishes award-winning material,” Nebraska Press Association Attorney Max Kautsch told the outlet. “It is hard to imagine what that legitimate reason could be.”