PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF
THE EMPIRE STATE'S STUDENT JOURNALISTS
This isn't about party or politics — it's about rights that are fundamental to our democracy. New Voices legislation restores the Tinker standard of free speech to student journalists, counteracting the negative impact of 1988's Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision, which created confusion and uncertainty for student journalists and administrators alike. The bill shields student media advisers from retaliation from school officials for supporting their student journalists, and defines the types of speech which are not protected and which student journalists may not publish. Students, media advisers, journalists and advocates in more than a dozen states are actively engaged in passing New Voices legislation, including our coalition at New Voices New York.
New Voices New York brings together a wide range of allies - we count student journalists from Staten Island and Corning, advisers from Buffalo, professors from Syracuse University, journalists from Albany and journalism instructors from NYC in our coalition, and we're all focused on one mission: giving student journalists full access to their First Amendment rights so that they can share stories that matter to their classmates and communities.
As a student journalist, ally or advocate, we want you to join our cause! There's much work to be done, and we need your help. From writing letters to or calling legislators to helping us organize our next advocacy day in Albany, this work matters — and we're in it together.
To join us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Twitter at @NewVoicesNY.
Our bill, the Student Journalist Free Speech Act (S.2297/A.3079), is sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endicott) and Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), and a combined 46 co-sponsors between the NY Assembly and Senate.
The bill outlines five specific types of unprotected speech which student journalists may not publish: speech that is libelous, invasions of privacy, speech that is a violation of state or federal law, incitements to commit unlawful acts, or speech that would materially or substantially disrupt the functioning of the school. In the rare case that an administrator feels restraint of a publication's content is necessary, the bill requires that administrator to justify their actions to the student journalists in a timely manner.
Additionally, the Student Journalist Free Speech Act protects student media advisers from administrative retaliation in the cases that they support or defend their students' right to publish speech allowed in the bill.
Finally, the legislation protects administrators and schools from any potential lawsuits brought by subjects who feel they were harmed by content published in student media.
Our campaign has been featured in news coverage and op-eds throughout New York:
High school journalists restore faith in free speech - Times Union
Bill would provide more protections for student journalists - Legislative Gazette
Opinion - New York should extend free press rights to students - Syracuse.com
Opinion - Give Our Youngest Truth Seekers Their First Amendment Rights - Democrat & Chronicle