V-day censored at a local high school

Rachel Reyes

Vagina, a six-letter word that has caused an uproar at Cleveland High School. The school’s administration has deemed the word “obscene.” This is an accreditation year for the school, which is why such a commotion is not surprising.

A special Vagina Day edition of the school’s newspaper Le Sabre was distributed on Feb. 14. The newspapers were dispensed during first period, with one headline reading, “Have a Happy Vagina Day!” Administration officials intercepted the stack of papers from being delivered to the rest of the school.

Immediately following, Principal Robert Marks spoke with Editor in Chief Richard Edmond to discuss why he was pulling the paper. He claimed Edmond’s own political agenda was a factor in why the paper in itself was so “obscene.”

Edmond said that Marks told him the paper was “a piece of shit” that should be handed out on Hollywood Boulevard.”

Edmond said the staff understands that they are producing a newspaper for a high school audience, but they are also aware that an anatomical diagram of the vagina is something each high school student has seen in their Los Angeles Unified School District mandated Health class.

An announcement was made during second period instructing teachers to not pass out the paper, as remaining papers were to be collected by the deans and vice principals. However, supportive teachers passed out the papers willingly, seeing no problem with the articles.

During third and fourth period, newspapers were still in circulation despite the efforts made by teachers and the administration.

The faculty was divided in their initial reaction to the issue. Some teachers were reported to have been ripping up the issue in front of their classes, even taking issues already in the possession of students to do so.

A number of students were passing out stacks of papers during lunch as administrators were ripping papers out of the hands of interested students as they were reading them.

Journalism advisor Coleen Bondy, who didn’t want to be quoted, was instructed by Marks to not distribute any remaining issues she had in her classroom during fifth period.

The staff and myself decided to wear shirts with the quote “My Vagina Is Obscene” to represent the message we received from the principal himself.

The following day, the journalism staff had supporters. Other students had made shirts with the same message to show support. Unbeknownst to others, the deans were ordered by Marks to send all Vagina Vanguard home if they refused to remove, cover or flip their apparel inside out. Edmond was sent home, as well as Business Manager Denayja Harvey.

I was also taken into the dean’s office and lectured. I was told that the word vagina was not appropriate, but upon questioning, they could not explain why.

The only reasons given were “we have 9th graders,” “it’s a safety issue,” and “most people in this school are not on our intellectual or liberal level.”

Other members of the Le Sabre staff were also being held, and parents were called. The School of Advanced Studies director, Ms. Hall, compared the word vagina to the “N-word.” She also called our act “cute,” downplaying the issue.