Legislative Resolution Recognizes Student Press Freedom Day

Student Journalist Free Speech Act introduced in both houses

Albany, NY – A New York State legislative resolution passed this week proclaims today, January 30th, as Student Press Freedom Day in the state. The day is recognized nationally by the Student Press Law Center and is part of an effort to secure more rights for student journalists across the country. The resolution was filed by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Brian Kavanagh, each of whom also introduced legislation supporting increased rights and protections for student reporters. The Assembly adopted the resolution on Monday; the Senate did so on Tuesday.

“It’s important that New York supports and encourages student reporters,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo. “It’s a difficult time to be a journalist; in order to ensure that we continue to have a strong, free press we need to make sure students have the same rights and protections as those afforded to professionals.”

“When we limit a student’s freedom of speech and press at their school newspaper, we also obstruct their pursuit of truth. Students in New York deserve the right to produce ethical and responsible journalism without being limited by their school administrators. If we want to teach the next generation of reporters the importance of holding systems of power accountable, we must allow them to experience free speech. Whether you’re writing for your school newspaper or a national news outlet, all journalists deserve this right,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh.

In addition to this resolution, Lupardo and Kavanagh introduced the “Student Journalist Free Speech Act,” (A3079/S2297) which would give student journalists editorial control over their publications. Currently in New York State, school administrators have the final say in what is published. The legislation, which stems from the national “New Voices” movement, affords protections to journalists at the public high school level.

The Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision gave school administrators the ability to review, and ultimately censor, student publications. The Lupardo/Kavanagh bill would still protect schools by exempting speech that is libelous, an invasion of privacy, incites students to commit an unlawful act, violates school policies, or that materially and substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.” Currently 13 states have enacted a form of this legislation; you can read more about New Voices at their Web site.