Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nia Gill and Senator Shirley Turner, which would protect the rights of student journalists at public schools and institutions, cleared the Senate today.
“Well-informed citizens provide the strength of any democracy and I am committed to defending the 1st Amendment rights of our student journalists,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “We look to our students and our young people to inform us now and in the future, they must not be silenced.”
Under the bill, S-108, students at public schools and institutions would have the right to exercise freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Each school district would be required to adopt a written policy concerning student freedom of expression. The policy would include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of student expression.
“Our student journalists strive to report the news to their communities just as professional journalist do, and they should be treated with the same respect,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Oftentimes, our student journalists want to cover topics that may be regarded as challenging or controversial, and they should have discretion over whether or not it gets published, not the school. As long as they are not placing anyone in danger or publishing hurtful information, they should be free to express their views and cover the news they deem important.”
School district employees could not be retaliated against for protecting the student exercising their freedom of expression.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 40-0.