Washington, D.C. — As students lead walk outs and actions across the nation to demand an end to gun violence, the Student Press Law Center — the nation’s only legal services organization dedicated solely to protecting the First Amendment rights of student journalists — is launching an expanded hotline and resource hub to ensure safe and accurate reporting on this movement.
“Student actions matter – and student voices need to be heard. The extraordinary national movement led by Florida high school students who survived the murderous attack on Feb. 14, have led to school walk-outs, rallies, lobbying efforts and plans for a national day of action, March for Our Lives, on March 24 and a national walk-out on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. While the SPLC has no position on gun control, we do strongly support the rights of student journalists to have unfettered access to cover these events without the threat of censorship or reprisal and the rights of students to lead this robust national debate,” said Hadar Harris, executive director of the Student Press Law Center.
Every day since the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the SPLC has fielded inquiries on its legal hotline from student journalists across the country. To respond to this need, the SPLC is doing the following:
- Expanding capacity for emergency response through the SPLC legal hotline;
- Launching a new resource hub for journalists covering the walk-outs and marches: http://www.splc.org/page/covering-walkouts-and-protests;
- Answering FAQs on the legalities of covering peaceful student protests and specific guidance around student walk-outs;
- Activating SPLC national Attorney Referral Network, consisting of more than 200 leading media attorneys across the country, to respond to specific events throughout the country;
- Preparing a national rapid-response legal hotline team for Saturday, March 24 to assist with any issues emerging during events across the country with an on-site team available in Washington, DC.
Student journalists and their advisers who have questions can contact the SPLC Legal Hotline at www.splc.org/page/legalrequest or, in an emergency, call 202-785-5450.
Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has been the nation’s only legal assistance organization devoted exclusively to supporting the student news media in covering important issues free from censorship and educating high school and college journalists about the rights and responsibilities embodied in the First Amendment. A nonpartisan 501c(3), the SPLC provides free legal resources and information as well as low-cost educational materials for student journalists on a wide variety of topics at www.splc.org.