(AP) A Palm Beach County, Fla., principal pulled copies of a high school student newspaper because of a column about sex and virginity. She says she thought the paper might be disruptive as students prepare for standardized achievement exams.
Amanda Escamilla’s opinion piece appears inside the paper under the headline “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Escamilla said she decided to write about virginity and students’ varying views on how sacred it is after reading magazine articles, watching a television show on the topic, and hearing her friends talk about it.
The junior’s article suggests that students think twice before having sex, but Principal Cheryl Alligood said that message doesn’t come until the last line, and many won’t read that far.
“I serve students from ultraconservative families and ultraliberal families,” Alligood said. “I have to walk the middle of the road. I also expect we have kids in ninth grade whose maturity level isn’t ready to handle this.”
For the edition of the newspaper, the staff sold $650 worth of ads to pay for printing and had 3,000 copies made with their teacher’s approval. Alligood said it is teacher Kristi Gibbins’ first year overseeing the paper and that the story should never have been printed. The principal offered the students half the cost to reprint pages.
“We’re supposed to be able to write about what we want to write about,” Escamilla said. “They can censor us if it’s going to cause rioting or injure our school.”
School board rules say just that, and Alligood believes the article would be disruptive, especially the week before students tackle the reading, math, and science sections of the achievement exams.