We believe the best way to prevent censorship of girls is to provide them with the resources and support they need to speak up for themselves. Active Voice will have three main components: fellowships, research and convening.
Fellowships are the core of the Active Voice initiative. College students will plan, develop and execute year-long “free-speech service projects” targeted to a high school audience with the goal of improving the ability of young women to write, blog and broadcast about issues of substance in their states and communities. Each fellow will be paired with a group of mentors recruited from the SPLC’s nationwide network of talented leaders in the fields of law, media, advocacy and technology, who will assist in the design and implementation of these service projects. Each fellow will be afforded a stipend and small expense account.
The information available regarding the censorship of high school students is concerningly out of date. During the fall of 2015, the SPLC partnered with University of Kansas researchers on a survey of over 400 high-school students at regional journalism workshops across North Carolina. We intend to build on this pilot to conduct similar studies in communities across the nation to create a more comprehensive understanding of the state of censorship in schools.
The SPLC has partnered with the Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication at Florida International University. Each year, Active Voice fellows and those mentoring them will gather at the annual “Conference on the Status of Women in Communication.” They’ll present the results of their service projects, discuss lessons learned and replicability, and pass the baton to a new class of incoming fellows.