STATE LEGISLATION


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States are free to give students more legal protection against censorship than the bare minimum the U.S. Constitution requires, and ten states and the District of Columbia have done so, by state law or state Board of Education rule (one, Illinois, has done so only at the college level). Although opponents traffic in myths and stereotypes, the reality is that student free-speech laws have been around for more than 30 years with no reported ill effects -- except on schools and colleges that prefer to keep corruption and mismanagement hidden.

Students can be their own best advocates by making informed and respectful arguments to their state and local lawmakers about why a free student press is important -- to produce better-trained graduates, and an honest campus dialogue about issues that matter. These tools will help you get started as a grassroots organizer to protect your own rights.

The California Experience: In this video tutorial, taken at a conference organized and hosted by the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University, California State Sen. Leland Yee and Jim Ewert of the California Newspaper Publishers Association talk about how they passed the nation's best laws protecting students and advisers, and how you can learn from their success.

Passing Student Free Expression Legislation from Student Press Law Center on Vimeo.

Podcast Primer: Brian Schraum of Washington and Josh Moore of Kentucky talk about how, as college students, they convinced their representatives to introduce student press-rights legislation. And in this article from the Report magazine, Moore and Schraum describe strategies for anticipating and responding to opponents' attacks.

Student Press Law FAQ: SPLC's Mike Hiestand responds to some of the more common arguments from legislative opponents. This primer is based on a prior effort in Washington State.

Understanding Student Free-Expression Laws: A detailed legal analysis of existing statutes and what they mean for student journalists and advisers.