A student publication at the University of South Alabama, appropriately called Due South, recently created a diversity-themed edition of the magazine, which includes coverage of disability rights, religion, body positivity, and LGBTQ issues. As Editor-in-Chief Sara Boone told NBC News, the publication has used Interstate Printing, a local business based in Mobile, to print the magazine for years. But as Boone explains it, when she sent the diversity edition, the local printer refused. Why? Christian principles.
“They emailed me back and said they would be exercising their right to decline printing this issue because it does not adhere to their Christian values and they hope to print with us in the future,” Boone, who says this is the magazine’s first “special topics” issue, explained.
Sound too on the nose? AL.com obtained an email allegedly from the printer that’s pretty direct.
“As the magazine expresses freedom of lifestyles, we must express our freedom by declining to print on the principle that we are a Christian company that does not adhere to the content,” Tracy Smith of Interstate Printing wrote in an email to Boone as obtained by AL.com. “We value the 40-plus years relationship we have with the University of South Alabama, and look forward to continuing our work with USA on other print and mail service projects.”
Boone says she replied to this email to let them know they would work with a different publisher in the future.
On the company’s website, it states that it is a Christian organization and “will serve the Lord God Almighty in any way we can.” It does not explicitly mention any groups, identities, or content it won’t work with as a rule of thumb. “Christian” is a notably broad identifier.
“This is more than having personal beliefs,” 21-year-old Boone told the news outlet. “This is actively discriminating against a group of people and trying to silence their stories.”
Bob Lowery, the communications director for the University of South Alabama, didn’t quite condemn the printer. Instead, in an emailed statement as reported by NBC News, he stressed that the university respects “the rights of individuals and private businesses to make decisions that are consistent with their values.” He did note the school is committed to “principles of freedom of expression and the exchange of different points of view.”
The issue will still be printed, thanks to printing services at the university. According to Boone, Interstate Printing quoted them $5,000 for 3,500 copies of the magazine, though it’s unknown how much the school’s printing services may cost.