25th Anniversary: Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier

The precedent is still widely used in court cases regarding censorship in schools, and taught in journalism classes nationwide.

Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the decision in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier.

It is still widely taught with lesson plans and tutorials on how to teach about all over the Internet.

The Court found the Hazelwood School District (HSD) had the right to censor its school-sponsored newspaper because it contained stories about teen pregnancy and divorce -- two topics that might be "inappropriate" for younger teens. 

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The Hazelwood case set a precedent for heavy censorship of free speech when it is  in a curricular setting, or attached to an educational activity in some way. A school only has to provide a justification for censorship that is "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns."

In November, the Student Press Law Center, the National Scholastic Press Association, and the Journalism Education Association administered a survey at the National High School Journalism Convention.

The survey, which was released on Jan. 9, said more than 40 percent of students and advisers surveyed said school officials had ordered them not to publish something.

I recall during my time at Hazelwood West High School, I was a Gazette (school newspaper) editor and Focus (school yearbook) editor. We were taught the doctrine as well as had some situations where subjects were considered "risky." Luckily I had journalism instructors that allowed us to be the student journalists were were trying to be.

What are your thoughts on censorship in school. Is it ok or should free speech roam everywhere?

Ashley January 15, 2013 at 12:59 AM
As an individual, it's the most unfair thing in the world to be told you can't write or discuss something you think is an important aspect of your life. I understand the parent and school point of view, but imagine being that pregnant teen or teen whose parents are divorcing, or nowadays that gay teen or teen with a parent in prison and being told your reality is taboo and should be ducked away somewhere.


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