Fast Times At Westview High: Student Journalists Fight for Right to Cover Story on Sex at School

logoStudents at the Westview High School in Portland, Oregon are fighting for basic journalistic rights.
The Westview Prowl published an article headlined “Inappropriate sexual contact at school surprises population. The article discloses a high level of sexual activity at the school: a legitimate journalistic subject that was covered by the students. Parents in the Beaverton School District have risen up against the student reporters.

The article reports that dugouts, bathrooms and spaces beneath bleachers are “far from strangers to sexual activity and that “there are limited opportunities to do it at home if you’re not open with your parents about your sex life.” One parent, Mistee Wilson objects that the article went too far and is inappropriate for students: “I think the article itself was not tasteful. They could’ve gotten their message across without being crude and lewd … we’re trying to keep our kids from running into this and they’re bringing it home from school?”

The students seems to be laboring under the impression that they were supposed to find cutting edge stories to report. Student Grady Garrett noted that “as journalists, I’m pretty sure we have the right to write about whatever we want.” Parents seem intent on teaching a lesson about the value of censorship instead.

Like any newspaper, there remains some level of propriety and restraint that must be exercised by journalists and columnists. However, much of the objections at Westview High appears to be the subject and general content as opposed to the language.

Sex remains one of the most controversial subjects for students journalists. Recently, a school was sued by students referenced in a school newspaper article detailing the sexual lives of the student body. Students appear to be facing increasing censorship in pursuing journalistic subjects.

For the full story, click here.

20 thoughts on “Fast Times At Westview High: Student Journalists Fight for Right to Cover Story on Sex at School”

  1. The person who wrote this it a coniving bitch so she probablly made it all up anyways.

  2. my support still goes to the journalism and free speech side of the fence as long as the paper doesnt require a black plastic wrap at the stand.

    I sure dont remember the high school bathrooms crowded with people having sex at the schools I went to and I went to public school but God help these kids if thats the way they are now.

  3. I think its great that they published this . But for the parents that are over reacting get over it. Students today are the same as when you guys were in high school. Only we dont have smokers corners and arent always busting out coke lines in the bathrooms during passing time.

    Everyone has sex get over it. If this article was in any other school paper it NEVER would of been brought forth to the local news. Just stop being uptight your kids are exposed to this in middle school and even more so in high school. Think back to when you were in school , you knew what bathrooms to have sex in when the urge came about during school.

    So does it really matter that they posted an article for all to read about something that everyone already knows is taking place?

  4. Sally:

    When we lawyers say “so stipulated,” it means there is no reason to debate the proposition. It is a “given” in the case.

  5. Sally:

    “And don’t worry…I’m usually a pretty nice woman.”


    That’s stipulated.

  6. Sally, I understand your position. (I have to-I view your avatar as fair warning!-LOL). In this instance, the article could have generated useful discussion about responsible journalism and responsible sexual behavior. My concern is that too often the topic of sex in the schools generates knee-jerk reactions. Here in Florida many schools limit instruction to abstinence only curricula, virtually guaranteeing that kids will not receive accurate information from the standpoint of either science or health. I received a better education on the topic in my eighth grade health class (although I absolutely do not recall any mention of sexually transmitted disease). I believe that this incident could have been transformed into an educational opportunity rather than a lesson in censorship.

  7. Mike for me, it’s not about discomfort.

    Granted, my girls are waaay too young to even consider sex. (they’re toddlers). But when they become teenagers, I know the opportunity will present itself. I just want my children to know that not everyone is out having sex like rabbits; that it’s okay it wait to have sex until you are completely ready.
    Would I like for them to wait until they’re married? Slightly, yes. But I didn’t wait. And I’m not going to lie to them about it either.

    I think most parents just want their kids to have a sexual relationship with someone that they really love and not just for the hell of it. No one wants their kid to end up with an STD.

    I think the problem is not with the topic itself, but with the way it is being presented. Teenagers know nothing about sex. They’re just kids. I think that the teacher can help them present such articles in much better ways.

  8. My take on this is that the reaction is largely fear based. One of the purposes of free speech and journalism is to encourage the exploration and discussion of controversial issues. Sexual activity among teenagers certainly falls into that category. Moreover, many parents wish to have it both ways. On the one hand, they are too uncomfortable to discuss emotional development and sexual feelings with their children. On the other, they resent any sexual information being provided through the education system on the grounds that that somehow interferes with a parent’s prerogatives. Censorship efforts have the effect of sending the message that the objectionable subject matter is a forbidden topic, or evil or both. Burying an issue serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

    All three of my kids are well into adulthood. When they were growing up I am certain that there were things that were not shared with me or with their mother. I suspect that that is true in most families. However, we did try to make certain that our kids understood that we did not consider anything off limits to discuss, including sexual matters. A willingness to talk about what we know is on our children’s minds hardly qualifies as approval of specific activity. Parents need to ask themselves whether their reaction to the student journalists in this instance reflected genuine concern for the welfare of their kids or simply their own discomfort.

  9. Interesting how complacent some replies are with comments like kids are sexual animals and we should all back off and let them be. Kind of sounds like a pedophile comment to me.

    When do we back off? When they are 6? maybe 12? Or is the age of consent when they are teens since that is the time that they are able to “take care of themselves” and maybe start a family.

    It’s disturbing really.

    The social aspects of K-12 often end up outweighing the actual reason that the kids are there. To learn and prepare themselves for life. We as parents need to use our influence to counteract the ideas that having premarital sex at the age of 14 is ok and we just buy them birth control.

    What has society become? It’s not all that dark I know. There are plenty of kids out there with their heads on straight and focus on developing their talents and skills to be successful as an adult.

    To the rest I hope that not everyone thinks that this activity is ok because honestly it’s not. Writing about it in a paper to provoke such conversations is great though.

  10. Better for the kids to discuss it with the parents then having to discuss with their friends where they are going to get the money for an abortion.

    I had my son when I was 15. My parents did not discuss sex, simply because I think they were naive, not uptight.

    When my son was old enough to understand, I discussed protection with him.

    I have a 14 year old step daughter that has decided she was going to have sex without our knowledge of course. As soon as he father and I found out she was at the doctor taking birth control and having STD explained to her in laymans terms.

    Parents need to stop being naive. Kids do it. Talk to them about how to prevent pregnancy, STD and the dangers of having sex at a young age.

  11. What a great idea!! Let’s encourage the idea that having sex with anyone and everyone that you want to is okay!!

    Because just STD’s aren’t getting spread fast enough!! We need to do more to spread those fun STD’s!!

    I think that they should also allow elementary aged students to have access to Comsopolitian magazine as well as Maxium magazine. Why shield them at all? Better that they learn young that careless sex is the way to do it!!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for free speech, but some things cross the line. Things like this are only done to cause a stir.

  12. this mom sounds way too uptight. the article appears investigative and reflective of reality. way to go kids for not being scared to speak out!

  13. I’m not a parent, so I guess I can never understand the tendency of some to live in perpetual denial of the fact that their children are sexual animals too, and do everything to suppress anything that suggests the contrary. Poor kids.

  14. From the article:

    “I don’t really have a problem with it being in the school paper because it’s just like free speech,” said Ashlyn Hiserote, another Westview student. “They can say whatever they feel like is important to talk about.”

    Just like it indeed, dear Ashlyn. Out of the mouth of babes….

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