1997: Yeo v. Town of Lexington

February 23, 2023

Yeo vs. Town of Lexington (1997) involves two public high school publications: the newspaper and the yearbook. The debate involving both of the publications revolved around whether or not they should publish an advertisement. The advertisement promoted sexual abstinence, which means to avoid all types of sexual relations with others.

Douglas Yeo was a parent of a student in that high school. Previously Yeo had campaigned against condom distribution in the public setting and had lost. Douglas Yeo placed the advertisement with the paper, but the student press didn’t want to run it.

The case was mainly about the school publications not wanting to publish the advertisement that promoted sexual abstinence.

The final decision was based on the court’s findings that publishing an advertisement should be left up to the students. The court refused Yeo’s claim that the actions of the student editors were the fault of the school district and his argument that schools have a responsibility to override the decisions of student editors.

What this means for free speech: while advertisements in a publication are paid for, the student press can still edit content or refuse to publish ads that are placed.

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