Students in a Florida high school had to halt distribution of a student-run yearbook following a wave of complaints about coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement, Local 10 News reported.
Students at West Broward High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida, started to receive their yearbook last week, but by Friday, June 4, the administration told them to stop all sales. This after an alleged outcry over the book’s two-page spread featuring students participating in the BLM movement and names of those who’ve died at the hands of police was considered not to be objective because it didn’t include a conversation about Blue Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter was created in December 2014 as a countermovement in the United States advocating that those who are prosecuted and convicted of killing law enforcement officers should be sentenced under hate crime statute.
However, Edge Yearbook co-editor-in-chief Elise Twitchell believes that student advocacy should be documented because students participated in the movement. Students reportedly got involved following the fatal shooting of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman.
Twitchell’s yearbook teacher David Fleischer agrees, telling the outlet, “We just don’t feel that including anything beyond Black Lives Matter was appropriate because we thought that it took away from the purpose of the page.” Fleischer also claimed that school administrators had the chance to review the Black Lives Matter spread before the book went to print but chose not to, “thereby tacitly approving its inclusion.” He added, “Indefinitely suspending the yearbook over a spread advocating for education about racism is not what a ‘world class’ school does.”
Twitchell, who’s a senior at the high school, told reporter Hatzel Vela that they weren’t even given notice before the administration made them stop selling and distributing the $90 yearbook. The student figured “more parents’ complaints came in.” She later released a letter to the community, writing, “The suspension of yearbook distribution and sales because of a page that talks about the struggles that black people face in our world is disappointing and gross because a good amount of our student body is black, or a person of color.”
The administration said it conducted a review of the book’s content, and by Monday, June 7, distribution of the yearbook resumed. Broward County Public Schools sent a letter to the community expressing its support and the encouragement of student expression.
“As the yearbook is intended to highlight notable and newsworthy events from that year, student journalists exercised their freedom of speech in documenting the movement. As a result of the review, distribution of the yearbook resumed Monday morning with an insert noting that the views expressed are not sponsored by the District,” the letter added.