Richwood High School decided to censor Daniela Vidal for an editorial she wrote in The Shield--the school newspaper. What exactly did Vidal do? Did she use foul language? No. Did she write an editorial glamorizing risky behavior such as unprotected sex, drugs and rock 'n roll? No. Was she encouraging a riot or a student walk out? No. Daniela's editorial was censored because she wrote about the lax enforcement of campus dress codes and student behaviors which prohibit gang-banging saggy pants, shorts that are too short, excessive cleavage and students who constantly text message in the classroom. Vidal also had the temerity to criticize her school for allowing rough and rowdy behavior in the halls in which resulted in a young woman being placed in a trash can.
Normally, school districts censor newspapers for the use of foul language or for printing stories about students containing too much information of a sexual or economic nature. Daniela, on the other hand, is being censored for expecting Richwood High School to enforce its dress code and rules of decent behavior. The school districts defense? Vidal's article will interfere with the educational process. Those are magic words taken from from the Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case in 1969 which forbid speech which would impede the educational process. Only in this case, the words are hollow; for Tinker also is the case where Justice Fortas said that Students do not shed their rights at the Schoolhouse Gate.
What exactly is the educational process that would be disturbed by printing Vidal's editorial? We can think of only one--and that would be Principal Clark's desire to teach Vidal, and the other students, a lesson about speaking truth to power and expecting the adults we pay with public tax dollars to do their jobs and help them.
Daniela, you are learning a great lesson about American culture and journalism. When the time comes for you to attend college, I hope you'll attend the journalism program at my university. But until then, if you decide to sue the school district for infringing upon your free speech rights, perhaps you might return a favor to your school district and teach them an important lesson about our bill of rights.
Daniela's editorial can be found at: http://www.splc.org/pdf/peoria_editorial.pdf