Current Status: Washington has a New Voices law, which protects students from censorship and advisers from retaliation for refusing to infringe on their students’ press rights. Want to further strengthen student press freedom in Washington? Join the movement by contacting the SPLC’s Advocacy and Organizing Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know Your Rights
Who is protected from censorship?
All school-sponsored publications are protected at Washington’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 an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
- violates federal or state law, rules, or regulations (high schools only);
- Violates school district policy or procedure relating to harassment, intimidation, bullying or discrimination (high schools only);
- Incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises, the violation of lawful school district policy or procedure, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school (based on specific facts); or
- Violates the federal Communications Act or applicable Federal Communications Commission rules or regulations.
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. 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 Washington’s New Voices laws on social media and in your newsroom.
- Help your colleagues better understand student press freedom by inviting an SPLC expert to join you: SPLC In The Classroom.
- Washington law requires your school board to have a written student journalism 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!
- 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.