Nebraska School Shuts Down Student Newspaper After Publishing Coverage Of LGBTQ+ Issues

A prominent. 54-year-old Nebraska school newspaper was discontinued after editors published LGBTQ+ content.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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Nebraska school newspaper

The Northwest Public School District is being accused of discontinuing its Nebraska school newspaper due to coverage of LGBTQ+ issues. While the decision details are still not entirely certain, some students feel as if they have been censored. Despite this, how the school paper was funded is also unclear and so discussions about first amendment rights are being sparked by this controversy. 

Recent press surrounding the Nebraska school newspaper is shining a light on conflicting community issues. While many parents are concerned that schools are indoctrinating their children to adopt gender theory, students are becoming increasingly open to the concept of a gender spectrum. This led the editor of the school paper, The Saga, to run a piece called “Pride and prejudice: LGBTQIA+,” for the last edition of the school year. It covered pride month origins and detailed the history of homophobia. 

It was around this time that school officials decided to cancel the printing services for the Nebraska school newspaper. The school board Vice President admitted that they were struggling to control the content allowed in the 54-year-old publication, and had discussed shutting The Saga down in the past. District officials have not disclosed exactly when their final decision was made, but one school board member mentioned concerns over what parents and community members would think about the current content. 

This has led students who identify as members of LGBTQ+ to speak out against the decision. They feel as if they have been silenced, and free speech organizations like FIRE and The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression agree. Yet whether the Nebraska school newspaper is funded by the school, which is funded by tax-payers, is of great concern in this scenario. 

Those who fear that the Northwest School District is censoring students have yet to discuss how the former Nebraska school newspaper was funded and whether all students supported it. Instead of relying on potential school funds, which are controlled by school officials, students concerned with freedom of speech cannot legally be censored when circulating their own independent news and have the option to create their own paper. Nothing is stopping them from self-funding their own Nebraska school publication, and the school cannot legally prevent them from doing so under First Amendment protections, but whether this option is being considered by students is unknown.  

While freedom of speech and freedom of the press protect individuals’ and news entities’ right to report honest content, there is no law protecting students’ right to use taxpayer funds to do so. Schools are 100% funded by the American people and often base budgets on enrollment and other criteria. If parents are liable to unenroll students due to LGBTQ+ content being circulated throughout schools, and oppose inappropriate sexuality-based information being present in classrooms, then entities like the Nebraska school newspaper could affect the district’s ability to receive funding, which will also affect its ability to fund the school publication and properly serve students.

Nebraska school newspaper

Regardless, the Nebraska school newspaper was shut down after school officials agreed that they had lost control of the content when pride month information was printed. Whether the students’ free speech rights have been violated, or funding was merely pulled due to a lack of community support for such controversial writing is uncertain. For now, students wishing to express themselves in the new school year can form their own school paper or work to gain parental and administrative support and challenge the decision.