Current Status: Illinois has a New Voices law to protect student media from censorship. It does not currently protect advisers from retaliation for refusing to infringe on their students’ rights. Want to strengthen student press freedom in Illinois? Join the movement by emailing SPLC’s Advocacy and Organizing Team at email@example.com.
Know Your Rights
Who is protected from censorship?
All school-sponsored publications are protected at Illinois’s public schools, public colleges and public universities. This includes newspapers, yearbooks, literary magazines, podcasts, broadcast, and more.
College and university media advisers are protected from professional consequences for refusing to censor student media or override their students’ publication decisions.
What work can be censored?
High school student media can only be restricted if it:
- is libelous or slanderous;
- constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
- Violates federal or state law; or
- incites students to commit an unlawful act, to violate school district policies, or to materially and substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school.
Higher education student media can only be restricted if it includes harassing, threatening or intimidating speech, obscenity or incitement. Higher education officials cannot engage in prior review.
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.
High school officials must tell students in advance their reason for censoring student media expression. You should be told before your media is restricted what is unprotected. Contact the Student Press Law Center immediately.
Other Ways to Get Involved
- Refine your thoughts with talking points, find answers to frequently asked questions, or find other resources here.
- Locate a copy of your school district’s student media or student expression policy. This toolkit can tell you everything you need to know about your policy and what you can do with it. Some student media policies offer legal protection equal to or even exceeding New Voices protections. If that’s the case, spread the word! (And let SPLC know, too.)
- Help your colleagues better understand student press freedom by inviting an SPLC expert to join you: SPLC In The Classroom.
- Spread the word about New Voices. Enlist all your friends in Illinois to raise their voices in support of this measure, which ensures the basic First Amendment rights of student journalists and protects their advisers from retaliation.
Why Illinois needs New Voices
History of New Voices in Illinois
- 2022: HB 4560, sponsored by Representative Will Guzzardi, was introduced to improve the New Voices law by protecting advisers from retaliation, ensuring school districts must have a freedom of expression policy, and allowing students to sue to have their censored work published.
You can see the list of national endorsers at the bottom of this page.