But on Friday, students at West Broward High School in Pembroke Pines were told that distribution of the book had been suspended by the school district due to two pages focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, Fleischer told CNN.
“I found out that was because there had been complaints from teachers and parents about the content on the BLM page,” said Fleischer, the directory advisor. “It didn’t seem objective, there weren’t any opposing views. They mentioned that we should have had, or could have included, something like Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter.”
On Monday morning, Fleischer wrote an email to his high school colleagues saying that “not all stories have, or should not include, an opposing point of view.”
“Saying ‘All lives matter’ is like saying ‘All houses matter’ when a neighborhood is on fire,” he wrote in the email. “Preaching for one group doesn’t mean you attack another, but using a countermovement distracts attention from the discussions that need to take place about how people of color are affected by racism.”
The Broward County School District confirmed in a statement that it has suspended distribution of the directory, titled “The Edge.”
“Broward County Public Schools support and encourage free speech for students. After concerns were raised last week about student editorial content included in West Broward High School’s yearbook on the Black Lives movement Matter, the school administration suspended the distribution Friday afternoon have been carefully considered, “the statement said.
Casting resumed Monday, but with an inserted note from school principal Brad Fatout.
He said, according to a photo in the memo shared by Fleischer: “Please note that as a government agency, the Broward County School Board must maintain a neutral stance on all political opinions. As such, all political views expressed in West 2021 The Broward Directories are not sponsored by the District. ”
The statement, Fleischer said, “looks like they’re saying Black Lives Matter is political and it’s not a human rights issue.”
“We have been censored”
Kennedy Messado, a high school student and co-editor of the yearbook, told CNN that the yearbook committee decided to include the Black Lives Matter movement to “accurately represent the whole year and the events that took place”.
“I was more shocked and surprised because I don’t think I considered it to be a problem or that anyone had a problem with the spread,” Messado said, calling it “disheartening”.
“It was worrying, as a person of color at the school, that they felt like they could take this approach and it wouldn’t have any repercussions,” Messado added.
Elise Twitchell, co-editor of the directory, said they were “censored”.
“We were censored for a weekend and almost a full school day, and that’s not something that should happen to a student-run publication.”
Fleischer, the directory advisor, said the lack of communication from school officials and the swift decision to suspend distribution on the Black Lives Matter movement were both deeply upsetting, especially since so many students in the district are students of color.
“We just think it’s an attack on our non-white student body and it’s just a slap in the face for my hard-working yearbook students, it’s a slap in the face for obviously the First Amendment and journalism,” Fleischer added.
CNN’s Tina Burnside and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.