An advocate for First Amendment rights says one California
school district is "on shaky ground" for banning religious symbols
from student newspapers.
A change allowing the superintendent of the Roseville Joint
Union High School District the right to ban political campaigning
and religious symbols from school newspapers and yearbooks is
landing the Sacramento-area district in trouble. Robert Knight of
Civil Rights Union (ACRU) tells OneNewsNow Roseville trustees
decided early last month to change the district's advertising
"Student papers are run by minors, overseen by
adults," Knight details. "The kids don't have an absolute free
speech right, especially when they're doing it on the taxpayers'
dime. The real question is why the district is singling out
religious speech and banning religious symbols."
Assistant superintendent Ron Stevenson tells The Sacramento Bee that even though
the district can restrict certain ads, it is willing to work with
journalism advisers and the Student Press Law Center to come up
with a solution.
"The Supreme Court made it clear that you can't single out some
viewpoints for discrimination -- you either allow all the
viewpoints, unless they conflict with school doctrine, or you don't
allow any," the ACRU spokesman notes. "And certainly, singling out
religious speech clearly violates that premise. So, the school
district is on shaky ground."
Officials initially stood by its changes, but they now plan to
revisit the issue and revise the new policy to ensure that it does
not "infringe" on the freedom of the press.