Settlement reached in California high school censorship case

A Kern County,Calif.,  judge signed a settlement this month that ended a censorshiplawsuit between East Bakersfield High School student journalists and the schooldistrict.

In August 2005, student journalists at The Kernal, thehigh school’s student newspaper, had planned to publish a series ofarticles that consisted of interviews with several students about the treatmentof gay and transgendered students in school, as well as an interview with astudent and local pastor who thought that homosexuality is wrong. But schoolofficials prohibited students from publishing the stories, because they saidthey were concerned for the safety of the students named, despite the fact thatthe student subjects wanted their stories told. 

ACLU of SouthernCalifornia Attorney Christine Sun said the students were prepared to go to trialin September. But shortly before the trial date, the school adopted a new, morefavorable student publications policy.

“That’s what thestudents wanted,” Sun said. “They are thrilled because they’vemade a real positive difference for other students.”

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SPLCView: Congratulations to The Kernal staff and the ACLU of SouthernCalifornia for their perseverance in seeing this through to a successfulconclusion. With the adoption of a more protective student publications policy,they have increased the chances that such administrative interference won’toccur in the future. And by fighting the good fight, other school officials willhopefully be prompted to think twice before engaging in similaracts.