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What are the symptoms of Hazelwood?

How do I know if I have Hazelwood?

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden inability to discuss political or social issues; 
  • Gagging; 
  • Excuses for censorship become difficult to swallow; and 
  • Painful discharge of journalism teachers 

In advanced cases, victims are paralyzed by intimidation.

Hazelwood outbreaks

In the past 25 years, Hazelwood has spread quickly and infected a number of schools. Because Hazelwood prevents people from speaking freely, many cases remain undocumented, and it's difficult to know exactly how far Hazelwood has spread. The known cases of Hazelwood are enough to give anyone pause, though:

  • IN FLORIDA, a high school salutatorian was stopped in the middle of his graduation speech and escorted out of the ceremony by his principal after he stumbled over a line in his speech and paused. The principal said he was worried the student planned to discuss the unsanitary conditions of the school bathrooms which the student had previously highlighted in a YouTube video.
  • IN ALABAMA, a federal judge said a graduate student has no constitutionally protected right to complain about her school's grading and disciplinary systems.
  • IN TEXAS, an appeals court threw out the First Amendment claims of a high school cheerleader who was disciplined after she quietly sat down rather than recite a cheer mentioning the name of an athlete who was later criminally charged with sexually assaulting her.
  • IN ILLINOIS, administrators at one of the nation's biggest public high schools forced students to produce a "sanitized" newspaper removing articles about student drug use and shoplifting.
  • IN OKLAHOMA, a high school valedictorian was denied her diploma after saying "hell" in her graduation speech.
  • IN KENTUCKY, a high school principal banned the newspaper from acknowledging the removal of a teacher caught in an inappropriate relationship with a student, even though the case had received widespread media coverage.
  • IN MISSOURI, a public high school banned any depiction of tattoos, and briefly confiscated a newspaper over a photo of a student's anti-cancer-ribbon tattoo.
  • IN NEBRASKA, a superintendent rewrote his quotes from an interview with high school journalists and demanded that the "cleaned up" version be published.
  • IN COLORADO, a federal appeals court threw out a student's First Amendment suit challenging the school's authority to punish her for mentioning religion during her graduation speech.
  • IN NORTH CAROLINA, student journalists were prohibited from mentioning the fact that the school had disciplined students for underage drinking during a field trip.
  • IN WASHINGTON, a principal removed a newspaper article critical of a school district official, asserting that "a student newspaper is not an appropriate vehicle for airing concerns, complaints or criticisms about District staff."
  • IN TEXAS, a federal court decided school officials could ban a Gay-Straight Alliance from meeting on campus because of claims that the club's message might undermine the school's abstinence-only sex education curriculum.
  • IN ILLINOIS, a federal judge agreed that a school could force a student to remove the phrase "God Bless America" from a yearbook cover she designed.
  • IN MISSISSIPPI, a federal judge allowed a middle school to ban the use of religious images in campaign posters for a student government election.
  • IN INDIANA, a principal forced students to remove incriminating information from a story documenting the severity of hazing of high school athletes.
  • IN GEORGIA, a federal district judge refused to reinstate a student government officer who was "fired" by his principal after publicly advocating for same-sex couples to be considered for the Homecoming Court.
  • IN VIRGINIA, a high school teacher was demoted and transferred in retaliation for her students' critical editorial spotlighting dangerous and unhealthy conditions in an antiquated school building.
  • IN TENNESSEE, a student editor was told that her editorial calling for acceptance of student atheists could not be published because it might inspire "passionate conversations."
  • IN WASHINGTON, a superintendent refused students' request to play an instrumental version of "Ave Maria" as part of a musical performance at graduation ceremonies.
  • IN NORTH DAKOTA, an award-winning journalism adviser was fired because his school board believed he was failing to prevent students from publishing criticism of school scheduling decisions and other district policies.
  • IN PENNSYLVANIA, a student was banned from wearing a "Terrorist Hunting Permit" T-shirt to express support for U.S. troops in the Middle East, and a federal court decided that the prohibition was legal.
  • IN ILLINOIS, a veteran journalism adviser resigned under pressure after her students wrote stories detailing the widespread practice of casual sexual "hookups" and the detrimental health consequences.
  • IN GEORGIA, a public high school confiscated and refused to distribute the annual yearbook because it contained photos of male students playing basketball without shirts.

“No one is immune to Hazelwood, and its symptoms can attack without a moment’s notice. Make sure you and your friends are protected against Hazelwood – before it’s too late.”

— Dr. Adam Maksl