Refusing Censorship: A High School Paper’s Fight for Press Freedom

PEN America, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the First Amendment Coalition (FAC) are proud to partner with the Student Press Law Center on Student Press Freedom Day 2023 for a virtual event “Refusing Censorship: A High School Newspaper’s Fight for Student Press Freedom.”

For this event on February 23 at 4:00 PM PT, we invite students and educators to meet and hear from award-winning journalism adviser Adriana Chavira and her students at The Pearl Post at the Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Los Angeles. Adriana and the students’ story of overcoming censorship and disciplinary retaliation after publishing an article on the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate’s effect on teachers can provide other student journalists with key ideas and insight when facing similar challenges. 

On Student Press Freedom Day, student journalists and allies convene across the U.S. to raise awareness of the challenges they face, celebrate their contributions, and take action to protect and restore their First Amendment freedoms. We invite all student journalists and allies to register now to join us for this special event.

Free and open to all. Registration required.


Delilah Brumer is a senior at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School and the print editor-in-chief of her school’s award-winning student newsmagazine, The Pearl Post. Her journalistic work is published or forthcoming in Ms. Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Girls’ Life Magazine, the Los Angeles Daily News, the Los Angeles Times High School Insider, PBS Newshour Student Reporting Labs, Best of SNO and PBS SoCal, among others. She is an incoming journalism major at Northwestern University.

Adriana Chavira is a high school journalism teacher at the Daniel Pearl Magnet School within the Los Angeles Unified School District in Lake Balboa, Los Angeles, California. She spent a decade as a newspaper reporter in Southern California before becoming a teacher 16 years ago. She is president of the Southern California Journalism Education Association. Adriana teaches journalism, advises the newspaper and yearbook at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, and is an educator with PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs program. She holds a Career Technical Education credential and is a Master Journalism Educator (awarded by the national Journalism Education Association). When she’s not teaching, she runs and hikes.

Mike Hiestand is the senior legal counsel at the SPLC. Hiestand has been integral to SPLC’s success since 1989. He was an SPLC intern, its first legal fellow, and then served as a full-time staff attorney from 1991-2003. Over the years, he has assisted over 18,000 student journalists and advisers. As the SPLC’s Senior Legal Counsel, he currently works from the west coast on the SPLC hotline and related projects. In 2013-14, Hiestand traveled around the country with free speech icon Mary Beth Tinker, teaching and speaking out on behalf of student press rights and free expression. “Tinker Tour USA” kicked off on Constitution Day at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and logged just under 25,000 miles while speaking at schools, colleges, churches, a youth detention facility, courts, and several national conventions. Hiestand, who grew up in Alaska, graduated from Bartlett High School in Anchorage and went on to Marquette University’s College of Journalism and Cornell Law School.

Gabrielle Lashley is a senior at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School and the Art Director of her school’s award-winning news magazine, The Pearl Post. In school, she’s the Co-President of the DPMHS Art Club and Vice President of the DPMHS Black Student Union. Outside of school, she works as a paid intern at Inner-City Arts, creating art in partnership with Dreamworks.

Nathalie Miranda is currently attending her first year of college at Los Angeles Pierce College as a full-time student and majoring in Communication studies. She is a former Features editor from The Pearl Post magazine at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School and is a reporter at Pierce’s The Round Up News.


Ginny LaRoe

Ginny LaRoe directs the First Amendment Coalition’s educational and advocacy programs focused on advancing and defending free speech, a free press, and a more open and accountable government. She joined FAC, a California nonprofit, after more than a decade working as a reporter and editor at newspapers in five states, focusing on policing and courts. Ginny’s commitment to student press freedom began in sixth grade when she founded The Sacramento Informer, which printed exactly once. Ginny worked on her high school newspaper and served as editor of her college newspaper at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism.

Nicholas “Niko” Perez is the manager of free expression and education at PEN America. In this role, he advances the Next Gen PEN America campaign which aims to catalyze a more informed, civic culture through free expression education for the rising generation and the general public. Perez also supports advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion in higher education.