CALIFORNIA — Carson High School administrators have interfered with the student newspaper’s publication for a second week in a row, this time over articles in the Trailblazer that the school claimed promoted drug use and sexual activity.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Dec. 2 that high school Principal Kenneth Keener postponed last week’s newspaper, which contained editorials advocating for legalized marijuana, calling masturbation “America’s favorite forbidden pastime” and promoting sexual freedom for teens. Keener said the editorials needed to be better written and include alternative viewpoints.
Keener did not return repeated interview requests, but told the Times that the articles were a breach of the school district’s policy, which states, “Controversial subjects should be presented in depth with a variety of viewpoints published” and that the policy bans obscenity and “any material which advocates the breaking of any law.”
School officials had also pulled the previous edition of the newspaper, which contained an editorial that referred to the predominantly black crowds at a nearby Taco Bell restaurant as “a pack of monkeys.”
Keener said he confiscated that article because it was offensive to the community and contained “insensitive and racially derogatory comments, was inflammatory and heightened tensions on campus.”
This time, student Editor in Chief Alex De Vera told the Times that she is ready to fight back.
“I am angry,” De Vera said. “These articles are simply opinions. If we have to fight, we will fight.”
California is one of six states with a law ensuring student free expression rights. Education Code section 48907 does not allow administrators to censor student expression simply because it is deemed offensive.
The Times reported that Keener said several parents raised objections in a meeting held Nov. 28, which included De Vera and newspaper adviser Gregory Vieira, because “they didn’t want to see an article about masturbation.”
The Times reported that students have since revised the article on masturbation, but did not indicate the other editorials had been changed.
De Vera and Vieira also could not be reached for comment.