Student journalists are entitled to some of the First Amendment’s free speech and free press protections. However, student newspapers are considered to be school-sponsored speech, meaning that school administrators are legally entitled to exercise prior restraint over articles and editorials—they can censor them before they are printed (see Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, 1988). In order to protect the rights of student journalists, many states including California and Massachusetts have passed legislation forbidding censorship of school papers unless the censored material would have disrupted the functioning of the school. New Jersey is currently considering enacting such legislation.

The Student Press Law Center, a constituent organization of the National Coalition Against Censorship, maintains an extensive collection of thorough resources on student press rights and has an FAQ page for high school newspaper rights. It also provides legal help on censorship issues to student journalists, teachers, and school administrators.