Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Schools Ban Reproduction Advertising

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Schools Ban Reproduction Advertising

Article excerpt

A SAN DIEGO County school district has banned ads for birth control and pregnancy-related services from school newspapers, asserting that parents must have a say in their children's sex education.

Until recently, such ads had been running in three high school papers in the Escondido Union High School District. The district decided to enforce a long-standing order against them by the school board after antiabortion leaflets were distributed at its five high schools, three of which have student newspapers.

Assistant superintendent Jayme Armer insisted in an interview, "This is not a First Amendment issue. We are not stopping students from writing articles on these matters, only the advertising of them. Parents have the right to preview all material regarding their children's sex education. I have reviewed our policies and I know where my lines are."

But Jim Ewert, a lawyer for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, believes the district has crossed the fine into censorship. Under state law, censorship of school papers is illegal, with a few exceptions.

"If there is a distinction between advertisements and news stories in the law, I am not aware of it," Ewert said in an interview. "The legislation affords students speech protection, period."

The exceptions in the state Education Code, he explained, involve defamation, obscenity or printed material that constitutes a "clear and present danger" of an unlawful act or is in violation of school regulations. …

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