Grand Island school newspaper shut down after LGBT-focused issue

LINCOLN Neb. (KLKN) – Northwest Public Schools in Grand Island got rid of its journalism program earlier this summer, in what some have called an act of censorship.

In June, the school newspaper published an issue covering several LGBTQ topics and information about Pride Month.

After the issue was published, staff and students of the journalism program were notified that the program was being eliminated after 54 years.

The school board and superintendent allegedly took issue with editorial content of the last issue.

Channel 8 reached out to the superintendent but has not received comment.

Northwest Public Schools has not told the media why the journalism program was canceled.

Sara Rips, the LGBTQIA+ legal and policy counsel for the ACLU of Nebraska, said it is a huge blow to student and Nebraska journalism.

“It is so important that students are encouraged to think and grow and learn,” Rips said. “And when those opportunities are stifled, especially when people are doing it because they don’t like LGBTQ people, it’s really, really a sad day for journalism in our state.”

Rips said that the Supreme Court has been very clear on this issue and that schools cannot discriminate based on the views they dislike or disagree with.

In the 1974 case of Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, the Supreme Court ruled that the freedom of newspapers to determine their own editorial content is protected by the Constitution.

Rips said this situation is similar, as the school board acted based on their dislike of the school paper’s content.

She said that the best outcome for this situation would be for the school district to reinstate the journalism program and develop policies to protect the safety and rights of LGBTQ students.

She said that for any other student who is in this situation, the best thing to do is fight back.

“Push back. Reach out to organizations, including the media,” she said. “Being a student journalist is an honor and a privilege, and there are so many people in all walks of life that were student journalists, and these stories resonate with them. Share these stories. Do not just let it happen.”

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