Racy Paper Uproar

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 12:16pm

Montana high school newspaper blasted for explicit Valentine's Day edition.

A Montana high school newspaper is raising eyebrows.

When The Hellgate Lance published a special Valentine's Day issue this month, some readers did a double-take -- like Hellgate High School Principal Russ Lodge.

"Mistakes were made, and articles were printed that were truly offensive," he said.

One editorial discusses the pros and cons of pornography.

Another suggests students "try bisexuality this Valentine's Day."

One article talks about being "friends with benefits."

Another poses the question -- "chocolate or sexy lingerie?"

"I just want people to know that's not who we are or what we're about," Lodge said.

He and the newspaper's faculty advisor issued public apologies on the school website, saying "we will be more diligent in editing any of our editions before they are published.

All future editions of the Lance will be previewed by administration."

"We had to own it," Lodge said. "We had to step up and say we made mistakes. We didn't have the proper oversight. We didn't review things the way we should have."

Lodge says when he spoke to the students who produce the paper, they seemed to understand that they used poor judgment.

Other Hellgate students say the content in the Valentine's Day issue represent the realities of life as a high-schooler.

They say it should be allowed.

"High school students have sex," student Blaise Lindlief-Hall said. "They struggle with things like bisexuality, friends with benefits, their boyfriends, their girlfriends."

Lodge says regardless, the newspaper crossed a line.

"I said to the class, 'Look, I don't question your integrity of what you're trying to do or the viewpoints that you're trying to present,'" he said. "'What I question is your judgment.'"

Lodge calls this a teaching moment, but some students still say the lesson's lost on them.

"I think that we should be able to write about what we want to, what we think is relevant to the times, the whole social structure of our school here," Lindlief-Hall said.

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