The Northwest High School Saga publication has been brought to an abrupt halt after 54 years of student journalism; some students say the cause was homophobia.

NorthWest High School

By J Jones, Reporter

         Many students said that they have been left saddened by the loss of the Northwest Saga newspaper. 

         This change caught many off guard, and some students said that it was caused by a few articles discussing LGBTQ+ topics. 

         Both the Northwest superintendent and principal were asked for a comment on this, but neither of them responded. The Grand Island Independent reported that the district was “looking at some different curriculum.” They also reported that the vice president of the school board had previous discussions about ending the program if they couldn’t have a say in what the students were publishing. The school board president was also reported to have said some people felt a little bit of hostility towards the June issue.

         Students said they believed the shutdown was rooted in homophobia that started back in late March, when the staff of the paper were informed they could not use their chosen names or preferred pronouns in any of their publications. 

         Because of this policy the reporters’ birth names had to be included in their byline. For some trans students, this was extremely disheartening.

         “They knew taking our names and pronouns would hurt,” said Marcus Pennell, who was a reporter for the Saga.

         Emma Smith, who was the assistant editor for the Saga, said that changing the names of the reporters would be “confusing as a reader.” 

         She said that she cited this new policy as the inspiration behind the three articles that discussed queer topics. These included the history of pride, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and an informative article on gender science. Smith said she credited these articles to the shutdown of the paper. 

         “They had no issue with other articles,” Smith said.

         Both staff members said they were surprised that there was any intervention from the administration.

         “There was absolutely no involvement from the administration in the production of papers,” Smith said.

         Pennell confirmed this and also added that, “We didn’t think anyone read the paper.”

         This lack of involvement seemed to be a trend with the Northwest administration as Pennell, Smith, and another staff member, Melisa C, said that they were not given any explanation from the higher-up staff and that they didn’t find out until after the decision was made. 

         Smith said that the lack of communication led her to believe that “The school tried to keep it under wraps.” 

         The Independent reports that the school board president said they had “little—if anything—to do with Saga’s elimination.” Both Pennell and Smith said they felt that the school’s actions are not meeting their mission statements and that the administration needs to change their attitude towards queer students because now the “odds are against diversity.”

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