Nebraska lawmakers have advanced a bill designed to protect the free-speech rights of student journalists in public high schools while holding them directly accountable for stories that are libelous.

The bill won first-round approval Tuesday on a 27-5 vote.

Sen. Adam Morfeld, of Lincoln, introduced the measure last year to prevent high school administrators from censoring articles they dislike. It would also prevent administrators from faculty advisers who defend a student's right to publish.

The bill also makes clear that school districts can't be held liable for articles written by students. But students who write a libelous article could be sued.