Next week, students at Bethesda's Walt Whitman High School will open up the latest edition of their newspaper, The Black and White, to read about the emotional and psychological effects of abortion. It is a subject the paper approached by interviewing seven Whitman students who terminated pregnancies and speaking to their boyfriends, counselors and psychologists.

"We are willing to cover any topics that are going to affect teen-agers, even sensitive topics," such as drug use and gambling among young people, said Black and White editor Andrew Wilcox, 17. "We have a right to run stories on these issues because they are issues in high school students' lives, and that's who we're aimed at."

The Whitman paper, a sophisticated publication that looks beyond Bethesda in its coverage and regularly wins regional and national journalism awards, is encouraged in its efforts by the school's principal, Jerome Marco, who said he is not informed in advance of the paper's content.

A story about abortion "doesn't give me problems, as long as we're reporting facts," he said. "Times are different . . . and there are franker public discussions of issues . . . . Things that may have been shocking to large populations back in the 1950s and '60s now may be shocking to a very small portion of our population."

The paper's adviser, Thomas Atwood, said, "As long as it's a professional, responsible story, there isn't any topic we shouldn't be able to write about."

As a result, The Black and White is far removed in its coverage from the kind of bland, noncontroversial papers once encouraged at high schools more concerned about their public image than reality. And the Whitman paper is not alone in suburban Maryland.

Topics such as teen-age pregnancy and the effects of divorce on families are old hat for many high school newspapers in the Washington suburbs. Yet a dispute over those very subjects, begun when students tried to write about them at a Hazelwood, Mo., high school, resulted in a Supreme Court decision this month condoning censorship by principals.

That decision has journalism advisers and high school editors around the country worried, spokesmen for scholastic journalism organizations said. In Montgomery County, advisers and editors say they have not had problems with censorship and are not immediately concerned that student publications will be subject to new restrictions. But they nonetheless scheduled a meeting at Paint Branch High School in Silver Spring to talk with a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union about the potential implications of the court decision.

"We don't think we're going to be censored, but the possibility is there," said Linda Weismiller, editorial editor of The Mainstream at Paint Branch and an organizer of the meeting. "And it's not going to do any good to cry wolf after we're censored."

Montgomery County policy, laid out in the student rights and responsibilities handbook, gives student journalists the right to appeal decisions by their advisers to principals. Principals may halt the distribution of an article that violates community standards, is libelous, lacks serious artistic value or encourages "an act that is not safe," a school spokesman said. But principals must give students reasons for their actions in writing within two days. Those decisions may be appealed to the system administration.

School board President Sharon DiFonzo said she was "concerned with the latitude" the Supreme Court decision gives administrators, but said she did not know if it would have "a profound effect on what we have in place."

Several years ago, students at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda took to the state Supreme Court -- and won -- a case in which administrators were seeking to excise language in a yearbook, but Montgomery school advisers said there had not been a dispute over publication content in recent years. Suburban school districts require that students obtain permission for conducting surveys in class, spokesmen said.

The best student publications, the ones that consistently win awards, are those that have been given the greatest freedom, educators reacting to the Supreme Court decision said.

"I'd hate to see the pendulum swing back" to the days of administration-dominated newspapers, said Linda Jensen, journalism teacher at Churchill High School in Potomac. But, she said, "It's still not uncommon to find high schools {elsewhere in the country} where students were being routinely censored by their principals. They hadn't fought the battle, and they hadn't been made aware of their rights."

"The principal has been given an unbelievable amount of leeway -- the adviser, too, for that matter," said John Mathwin, journalism teacher at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. He said that while none of the three principals he has worked with at Blair had censored its award-winning paper, Silver Chips, administrators now have the right to declare a subject unsuitable for an immature audience.

"The idea that so many people have is that the students are going to be irresponsible if schools don't clamp down on them," said Mark Goodman, director of the Washington-based Student Press Law Center. The center was founded in 1974 by educators and journalists in response to a national survey recommending creation of an organization to help students learn about their rights and make sure they were protected, Goodman said.

"I've had students and advisers calling me in tears" over the Supreme Court decision, he said. "I don't think the public realizes how dramatically this could affect what they do."

"Schools that are going to be most heavily or most overtly censored under the new rules are likely to be the ones that will have the most trouble with underground papers," said Edmund Sullivan, director of the 2,400-member Columbia Scholastic Press Association in New York.

"It strikes me as very odd that schools are required to teach the Bill of Rights in American history classes and yet they will now be permitted to deny the most basic of the Bill of Rights, the right of speech, in journalism classes . . . . I didn't read that the Constitution has a limitation of any of its rights on children."