Principal pulls pregnancy story from Texas yearbook

The Burleson High School yearbook staff, going up against a March 1 printerdeadline, is fighting their principal’s decision to censor a teen pregnancyarticle.

Senior Megan Estes, editor in chief of The Elk, said the point ofthe article, featuring two seniors who also are teen mothers, was to show fellowstudents how the girls are coping with motherhood and how their lives havechanged. Estes said the principal told her he felt the article “glamorized” theteen mothers’ mistakes.

Principal Paul Cash said the topic of the article conflicts with theschool’s abstinence-based curriculum. He also said he does not think thecommunity would want that topic covered in the yearbook.

Senior Brittani Shipman, a teen mother featured in the article, accompaniedEstes to the meeting and asked the school board to allow her story to bepublished.

“Allow others to benefit from my experiences and what I’ve accomplished,”she said, according to Dallas-Fort Worth TV station WFFA’s Web site.

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SPLC View: If you are looking for a textbook example of everythingthat is wrong with Hazelwood‘s extraordinary grant of censorshipauthority to a single high school principal or other public school official,here you go. Here’s the tally thus far: A student editor and staff of theyearbook believe the story is well-written, well-researched, newsworthy and ofinterest to their readers. A journalism adviser — a former professionaljournalist — supports her students and says she is proud of them fortelling stories that matter. At least one of the teen mothers mentioned in thearticle has publicly come forward to say she wants her story told so that othersmight benefit from her experience. But the principal says no. The story, hesays, does not accurately reflect the “ideals and values of the community.” Soat least for now, the story is out. And it looks like the administration’s plan,with knowledge of the yearbook’s rapidly approaching printer’s deadline, issimply to drag its feet on the students’ appeal, forcing the yearbook to shipbefore a decision is made. Classy.