A local printing company has ruffled feathers after refusing to print an upcoming edition of a student-led magazine at the University of South Alabama (USA) due to “religious” objections to its editorial content.
Sara Boone, the editor of Due South magazine, said she and her colleagues spent months preparing to release an issue of the magazine examining diversity on USA’s campus when they were told by Interstate Printing that the company would not be printing that edition due to religious objections.
The story was originally reported by USA’s student newspaper, the Vanguard, but has since been picked up by local, national and international media outlets, including NBC News.
Boone said the magazine has used Interstate Printing for years without any problems, but this particular issue was focused on diversity and highlighted voices from members of the LGBTQ community, students with disabilities, drag queens and people from various ethnicities and religions.
The cover of the magazine showed someone representing each of the communities featured in the issue.
After sending in the final copy, though, Boone said she was told by representatives at Interstate Printing they would be “exercising their right” not to publish content at odds with their “Christian values.”
“The irony is that this was Due South’s very first special topics issues and it was on diversity and inclusion,” Boone said. “It featured stories on body positivity, students with disabilities, LGBTQ life, drag queens [and] different religions, but they didn’t mention which story they had an issue with.”
Lagniappe reached out to Interstate Printing, which has operated in Mobile for decades and prints several local publications, but did not initially receive a response. However, its website states prominently Interstate Printing is “a Christian company that will serve the Lord God Almighty in any way we can.”
The reaction on social media has been somewhat mixed, with some calling the company anti-LGBTQ and others defending their right to refuse to publish material they find objectionable. According to Boone, the company quoted a price of $4,473 to print 3,500 copies of the upcoming edition of Due South.
While the fallout with Interstate Printing caused concerns among Due South’s staff, Boone said USA officials quickly stepped in and offered to publish the upcoming issue using the university’s own internal printing services. It’s currently on schedule to meet its original Nov. 20 publication date.
University spokesperson Bob Lowry issued the following statement last week:
“The University of South Alabama is committed to the principles of freedom of expression and the exchange of different points of view. We respect our students for having the courage of their convictions. At the same time, we also respect the rights of individuals and private businesses to make decisions that are consistent with their values. It is our hope that healthy and constructive dialogue can emerge from differing perspectives.”
Boone said she doesn’t anticipate Due South working with Interstate Printing again in the future, but she also said the situation has only reinforced the staff’s decision to focus on diversity and inclusion at USA.
“For me personally, having worked so hard on this and having this vision and purpose, it was kind of heartbreaking to see that some people, no matter what you say, will not change their mind on certain issues. That’s just a fact of life,” Boone said. “But I know that what we’re doing is important and that’s why we’re going to continue publishing this magazine. This was a sign that we need to be telling these stories. These are students in our community and on our campus, and we won’t pretend they don’t exist.”
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