Know Your Rights
Who is protected from censorship?
All school-sponsored publications are free from censorship at Hawaii’s public schools, public colleges and public universities. This includes newspapers, yearbooks, literary magazines, podcasts, broadcast, and more.
Student media advisers are protected from professional consequences for refusing to censor student media or override their students’ publication decisions.
What work can be censored?
Your work can only be restricted if it:
- is libelous or slanderous;
- constitutes a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy;
- is obscene;
- violates federal or state law; or
- So incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of lawful school or board policies, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school based upon specific facts and not on undifferentiated fear or apprehension.
What happens if I’m being censored?
Try to get any communication from your school in writing, or write down your own memory of events as they happen.
School officials must tell students in advance their reason for censoring student media expression and give a clear time frame for review. You should be told before your media is restricted what is unprotected. If the time for review passes, your work is presumed to be permitted and can be published. Contact the Student Press Law Center immediately.
Join the Movement
- Know your press freedom rights and make sure others do as well. Spread the word about Hawaii’s New Voices laws on social media and in your newsroom.
- Hawaii law requires your school board to have a written student publications policy. Locate a copy of this policy. (You can use this toolkit to help you find it and some examples of red flags to look out for.) If the policy seems like it endorses censorship or doesn’t match the New Voices law, let SPLC know!
- Help your colleagues better understand student press freedom by inviting an SPLC expert to join you: SPLC In The Classroom.
- Advocate for even more student press freedom. Is the law not good enough? Talk with SPLC’s New Voices Advocacy and Organizing Team (email@example.com) about gaps you see in the law and how we can work to make it stronger.