In February, Willard Alternative High School raised a stir when the student newspaper released a special issue demanding to “Free the Nipple.” The Willard Wire’s article was accompanied by uncensored photos of topless men and women. The editorial pointed out that society has a double-standard when it comes to the display of men’s and women’s bodies.
“Free the Nipple” drew plenty of snickers and lewd comments, but for the most part, it was heartening to see community members rally in support of the student journalists’ carefully thought-out work. Indy commenters praised the Willard students’ “enlightened coverage” and “incredible strength.” Some pointed out that any high school student with internet access has already seen much racier content than the nonsexualized photos in the Wire. Still more called out Missoula County Public Schools for its handling of the whole deal. MCPS staff pulled the copies of the issue and disciplined Principal Jane Bennett, who later resigned her position.
“I sense the only disruption caused at any of the schools occurred due to the reaction of prudish administrators. One has to wonder if they read the articles or consulted the Willard students and staff prior to the knee-jerk response,” wrote one commenter. “...Curious decisions indeed! Thanks Willard students and staff for the enlightened coverage of a very relevant topic.”