This I Believe

Julie - Pearland, Texas
Entered on February 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in standing up for my beliefs. When I became the editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, I made a promise to myself and to my staff that I would try to publish stories that the student body could relate to. I did not want to continue on the safe road the newspaper had been taking as another cookie-cutter high school publication that the administration had overpowered.

As a result, I pushed myself to the limit, publishing stories about teenagers taking birth control and fellow classmates on a pathway to alcoholism. I felt like for once I had the power to unlock the door that had been guarded by years of stifling adolescent voices. So when I allowed a story about how the administration had the tendency to disrespect students, to my dismay, I was forbidden to publish it in the school newspaper by not only my teacher, but my principal as well. I fought so hard to try to run the story, rewriting it to take a less bias stance on the situation, accusing my teacher of not taking risks for the sake of her job, even contemplating running the story behind the administration’s back, all for the sake of what I believed in: freedom of speech.

Although the story never ran and I was asked to step down as editor-in-chief, never did I feel that my fight against censorship was to no avail. As I hear government teachers at my school express satisfaction at my attempt at challenging the decision from the Supreme Court Case Hazlewood v. Kuhlmeier, which ruled that the administration has editorial power over school publications, I felt that I proved the victor in my battle against my longtime desire to satisfy adults with my obedience. Moreover, I found myself the champion in standing up on behalf of those teens who were turned down by every teacher, every parent and every other adult who said they were not allowed to do something in which they strongly believed. Today, as I take my stance on standing up for one’s beliefs into my next four years in college, I could only really hope that I made a difference in the journalistic views of one person on my staff, and he will continue to lead the newspaper into a new generation where teens have voices that are heard.