FULLERTON, Calif. — Civil liberties advocates yesterday urged officials to reinstate a high school newspaper editor in Orange County who was fired after profiling three gay students.
School officials were wrong to remove student Ann Long in January from her shared post as editor in chief of Troy High School's newspaper, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said in a letter to the local superintendent.
Long's Dec. 17 article in the Oracle chronicled the decisions of three students — two 18-year-olds and a 15-year-old — to reveal their homosexuality and bisexuality to family and friends. All three spoke to Long knowing their names would be used.
School officials have indicated that Long needed parental permission before publishing the stories, but the state attorney general has maintained that no such permission was needed, the ACLU said. Meanwhile, a state law cited by a school district official to claim Long violated rules about getting parental approval for certain student surveys did not apply, the group said.
In general, the school district was barred from punishing students for speech that's protected off campus by state law, the ACLU argued.
"I got the approval of my journalism adviser, I checked my facts, and all the students agreed to tell their stories in this article," Long said in a statement. "I thought this was an important issue, and so did my sources, to discuss in the school newspaper because it promotes tolerance and understanding."
Besides trying to regain her post, the letter asked school officials to erase the incident from her school record.
The ACLU letter was endorsed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the California Safe Schools Coalition.
A message left yesterday with the Fullerton Joint Union High School District was not returned.