New Voices

New Voices is a student-powered nonpartisan grassroots movement of state-based activists who seek to protect student press freedom with state laws. These laws counteract the impact of the 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision, which dramatically changed the balance of student press rights. New Voices supporters include advocates in law, education, journalism and civics who want schools and colleges to be more welcoming places for student voices.

In 2020 there is strong momentum, with New Voices volunteers active in more than a dozen states, and bills expected to be filed in many of those. Along with the 14 states that already have New Voices laws, that’s more than half the country.

New Voices 2020 bills were considered in Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. As of August 2020, bills are still under consideration in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

2020 Wins:

  • The Governor of Colorado signed into law updates to Colorado’s student media law, in place since 1990, to include digital and broadcast media and add protections for student media advisers.
  • The Hawaii House overwhelmingly approved New Voices legislation for the first time.
  • An Iowa legislative committee approved updating their law, in place since 1989, to include protections for student media advisers.
  • Legislation was introduced in Kentucky for the first time.
  • The Minnesota House gave preliminary approval HF 1868.
  • Two Missouri committees approved HB 2317.
  • The Nebraska legislature voted two of three times to approve LB 206.
  • The New Jersey Senate unanimously voted to approve S108.
  • The Virginia legislature approved HB36, protecting college students and advisers.

For more information or to get involved, contact New Voices Advocacy and Campaign Organizer Hillary Davis at hdavis@splc.org. Along with your contact information (including city and state), please indicate if you’re a student, educator or other interested party.

Here are the 14 states with laws that protect the First Amendment rights of student journalists:

Read the specifics about the laws and regulations here. In addition, Virginia law protects the rights of college students only, and there are codes protecting the rights of student journalists in the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania.

During state legislative sessions in 2018, bills were introduced in seven states and passed into law in one (Washington).

2019

New Voices bills made significant strides, with a record number of state bills – 11 – introduced, and two measures adopted in Arkansas to strengthen protections for student journalists.

“The New Voices movement is gaining momentum across the country and this year has seen an unprecedented level of activity,” said Hadar Harris, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “Eleven states introduced new legislation. Students and advisers in Texas and New York held well organized lobby days. Legislation passed out of committee in Nebraska, New Jersey, and Texas.”

“Protections for student journalists were significantly expanded in Arkansas after two bills were adopted during the legislative session. And the legislative season is still not over in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hundreds of students and advisers mobilized to create new momentum on the ground that we look forward to building upon in the year to come. We are very excited about the year ahead,” Harris said.

Highlighted states below have their own New Voices pages or websites:

Resources

Timeline of Student Press Legislative Protections