Nebraska

The Viking Saga, Northwest High School in Grand Island, Nebraska student paper, has been shit down

Northwest High School in Grand Island, Nebraska, has ceased publication of the Viking Saga, its student-run newspaper. The closure occurred mere days after the student newspaper published its June issue, which featured an article on LGBTQ pride and the history of pride month.

According to the Northwest Public Schools superintendent, it was an administrative decision. Zoka Jenik, a student writer on staff at the time of its closure, was unsurprised by the decision.

Jenik stated, “I wasn’t too astonished, as I expected something similar to occur.” “We anticipated some sort of pushback, but not to this degree. It’s not fair to take opportunities away from other students simply because they don’t agree with our beliefs and ideals, and after a while I became quite annoyed and angry since a lot of work went into each issue’s articles and it’s not fair to take opportunities away from them.”

The acts of the administration were not completely unexpected. When acknowledging the author of a particular piece, they had previously required students to use their birth names rather than their chosen names and pronouns. Jenik stated that staff members were prepared for some level of response, but not a complete shutdown of the paper.

“We were scared about retaliation from other students, but less so from the administration,” Jenik added. Once the story was published, we received several verbal and physical threats from the student population, which the school did little to prevent. As a result of the administration’s handling of the student threats, we did not anticipate any action from them.

Despite how difficult this incident has been for those affected, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Jenik remarked that the support from around the nation was astounding. From national television attention to American Civil Liberties Union reps, people are not letting this go.

“It feels wonderful. It’s incredible to learn why we have allies that are willing to fight for us and other students who may be experiencing a similar situation. Jenik stated, “I want every LGBTQIA+ person to know they are not alone and that there are individuals eager to fight for us.”

Marcus Pennell, who was also employed when the June issue was released, shared this view. Pennell stated that prior to the publication of the last edition of the newspaper, there had been no censorship discussions, and the issue had been forwarded for publication. Pennell now feels better about the situation after observing the responses of citizens from throughout the country. Pennell stated that this occurrence opened his eyes to a great deal of injustice that had been occurring.

“If I could go back in time, I would probably argue a bit more when we were informed we couldn’t use our chosen names. We were told that our teacher will be punished for this,” Pennell added. “However, since all this information has been made public, I’ve been told that there is no law that allows them to do that.” Our legal names have no genuine basis, but that’s okay. I believe I never truly desired for the newspaper to cease publication. That was in no way my aim. However, I believe I would have done the same thing.”

While Pennell appreciates the support, the fact that the newspaper was shut down remains. Pennell is not as sure about the return of the Viking Saga as others are about the revival of the newspaper in its previous form.

“I’m not sure to be very honest. Pennell stated, “I am experiencing a great deal of pressure from a large number of individuals.” “And if it does return, I’m a little concerned that it will be censored. They continued to censor it, and they will continue to restrict what students can write about. But, you know, any effort towards regaining it is commendable.”

Jenik further stated that publishing the issue was absolutely worth the repercussions, and in fact demonstrates some of the flaws and biases highlighted in the newspaper’s special edition. Jenik issued the following challenge to those who disagree: Join the paper.

“I still would have followed through. “Everyone should be aware of the daily discrimination LGBTQIA+ folks encounter,” Jenik stated. This further demonstrates that we cannot exist without being assaulted over it. However, they were opinion and editorial pieces, which represent the newspaper. If they disagree, they can subscribe to the publication.”

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