Principal censors student press

South Carolina News Notes

Principal censors student press
MYRTLE BEACH — The principal of an arts and sciences academy has censored a student newspaper, expressing concern over a front-page editorial endorsing marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Academy for Arts, Science & Technology Principal Robbie Burgess banned the distribution of The Academy Post’s November issue after he said the editorial, accompanied by a picture of two male students holding hands, might be disruptive to the school.

“I had some concerns about the content of the article and how it might impact students here and what the community concerns might be when the article was distributed,” Burgess told The Sun News. “At the academy we encourage diversity, we don’t look to silence student voices, we hope to facilitate their expression.”

Horry County Schools’ policy places discretion over student publication content in the hands of principals, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News.

The paper’s co-editors Kyle Hertzog, 18, and Katelyn Edwards, 17, said the decision amounted to censorship. The newspaper has been an independent project and has received no prior financial support from the school.

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“There is a clear disclaimer in the newspaper that states that the opinions in the paper do not represent those of the school or the school district,” Hertzog told the daily paper. “Basically everyone we’ve spoken to, from teachers to our lawyer, says that we’re right; that we’re being censored because of the content, which is clearly one student’s opinion. It isn’t right. What’s the point of having rights if you can’t exercise them?”

The students said they are concerned advertisers will now be less likely to support the paper if they cannot be guaranteed when issues will be distributed.

The paper’s sole source of funding for printing costs comes directly from advertising revenue. The school contributed $500 for the students to re-print the issue after taking out the offending editorial.

Both the students’ and school district’s lawyers are citing a 1988 Supreme Court decision to back their individual arguments.

New venue for LGBT films
N. CHARLESTON — The Alliance for Full Acceptance is assisting the Greater Park Circle Film Society in opening the Talking Picture House, a new venue for LGBT and progressive films.

The new movie house will regularly feature LGBT films as part of its offerings. AFFA is serving as its 501(c)3 fiscal agent as the society submits and awaits approval for its IRS non-profit status.

The Film Society received seed grants from the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department and the Olde North Charleston Merchants Association. The Talking Picture House premiered in early December with a showing of “What Would Jesus Buy.”

The new house features seating for 50 people around small tables in a dinner theater-style setting. Free popcorn is always served. Food and drinks (including beer and wine) are available.

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On Jan. 10, the film society will feature “Bin Yah,” a critically-acclaimed documentary about the Mt. Pleasant African-American community’s struggle in the face of a proposed highway extension. Show times are 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is $2 for members of the society and $5 for non-members. More information is available at parkcirclefilms.org.

Bishop steps down
COLUMBIA — The bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church’s Upper South Carolina diocese announced in mid-December he will retire and is calling for the election of a successor.

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson has led the diocese since 1995. At the end of next year, he’ll be only one year away from the church’s mandatory retirement age of 72.

He plans to stay in his post until a successor is elected, or until Dec. 31, 2009; whichever comes first.

Henderson voted against the confirmation of openly gay New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson. He said he doesn’t believe any parishes in Upper South Carolina will be splitting from the denomination.

Pro-equality bills filed
COLUMBIA — Several progressive bills have been pre-filed by a friendly member of the South Carolina Senate, in advance of the new legislative session, according to the Alliance for Full Acceptance.

Sen. Robert Ford, a Democrat, filed six separate pieces of legislation including a civil unions bill (S 42), a hate crimes bill (S 41), new healthcare provisions (S 76) and non-discrimination bills addressing employment (S 73), housing (S 75) and public accommodations (S 39).
The 118th South Carolina General Assembly will convene on Jan. 13. State representatives and senators are allowed to pre-file bills for early placement on the legislative calendar.

For more information, you can contact Ford at RIF@scsenate.org.

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