Administrators recall paper because of tampon, zipper illustration

WASHINGTON — Administrators ordered arecall of a high school newspaper’s special edition devoted toembarrassing moments because of illustrations they deemed“inappropriate” for high school students.

The Peninsula Outlook, Peninsula HighSchool’s student newspaper, ran an illustration of a tampon being passedunder a bathroom stall and a photo of a boy with his pants zipper down in lastweek’s special issue.

Administrators deemed certain images in the Outlook‘s Feb. 1 special edition issue inappropriate and recalled all copies of the issue after it was distributed. To see a copy of the recalled publication, click the image above (requires Adobe Acrobat).

After recalling the already-distributednewspapers, Principal Patricia Scott met with the students to tell them theyneed to consult with her prior to printing questionable material, Scott told theNews Tribune, a newspaper in Tacoma,Wash. She said the students did not think material would offendanyone.

“They’re students, and they’re learningwhat’s appropriate and not appropriate,” Scott toldthe News Tribune. Scott did not respondto requests for comment from the Student Press Law Center.

FernValentine, chairwoman of the Washington Journalism Education Association, saidthe illustrations were not offensive and probably resonated with high schoolstudents who had found themselves in similar embarrassing situations.

Peninsula School District Superintendent Jim Coolican said the photoand illustration “crossed the line. We have students in the school who are13 years old and we have to be sensitive tothat.”

OutlookadviserDerek Smith did not return messages from the Student Press Law Center, butValentine said Smith was trying to negotiate with the principal to make suresimilar incidents did not happen in the future.

Coolican said hedoes not plan on reviewing any future editions of theOutlook and he does not consider lastweek’s recall to be a form of censorship of thepaper.

“It’s my responsibility to make sure the rightinformation is being published in the paper and that we’re doing the rightthing for our students,” he said.

But Valentine said theadministrators’ actions constituted censorship.

“It wasnot obscene by any stretch of the imagination,” Valentine said. “Itwasn’t libelous and it didn’t disrupt the educationprocess.”

by Emily Walker, SPLC staff writer