Posted by R. Neal

Once again I have to comment on another embarrassing story from my own back yard. I'm sure you heard about this already, because it made the national wires and cable news:

Administrators at Oak Ridge High School went into teachers' classrooms, desks and mailboxes to retrieve all 1,800 copies of the newspaper Tuesday, said teacher Wanda Grooms, who advises the staff, and Brittany Thomas, the student editor.

The Oak Leaf's birth control article listed success rates for different methods and said contraceptives were available from doctors and the local health department. Superintendent Tom Bailey said the article needed to be edited so it would be acceptable for the entire school.

The edition also contained a photo of an unidentified student's tattoo, and the student had not told her parents about the tattoo, said Superintendent Tom Bailey.

The students were not amused:

Monday night, several students attended the school board's regularly scheduled meeting to voice their unhappiness with the administration's decision. Many had tape over their mouths with the word "Censor" written on them.


Oak Ridge senior Krystal Meyers was the writer of the article on contraceptives.

"I just wanted to let people know what kinds of birth control that are out there and what you can use," she said.

After removing all copies of the paper before it was circulated, Ervin scheduled a conference with Krystal and her father.

"I walked out of second period today to go to my meeting and I was clapped all the way out of the classroom," Krystal said.

That wasn't the only show of support students have made.

Some students gathered Sunday to make T-shirts to wear to school the next day.


Samantha Senn's shirt said "If not now, when?" She said she wanted to say, "If we don't take a stand now against this, then when are we going to?"

James Sullivan's shirt read, "Censorship got me pregnant."

Setting aside the debate as to whether birth control is an appropriate topic for a high school student newspaper, it's sad that the "abstinence only" crowd has driven these students to seek out the information on their own and share it with their classmates. Good for them.

What's amusing, though, is what the school administration has accomplished by this. Now the school and its backward policies are in the national spotlight, the kids are all talking about sex and birth control, and bonus, they got an unintended lesson in the First Amendment, censorship, and standing up for your rights. I believe the right-wing pundit term for it is "useful idiots."

OK, then.

(P.S. Way back in ancient times when I was going to high school, whenever something like this happened it spawned another hippie underground school paper. Nowadays I guess it spawns a hundred new blogs.)