SPLC commends the Seminole County School Board for rejecting the censorship of the Lyman High School yearbook and instead choosing to affix a clarifying sticker indicating that the “Don’t Say Gay Walkout” was not a school-sponsored activity. The School Board’s swift action — including offers to personally pay for the new stickers — decisively ended the Superintendent’s plan to censor the entire spread by covering it with stickers.
SPLC echoes the sentiments of Vice Chairman Abby Sanchez, who said: “The greatest gift that we could give our students is for them to be able to communicate and speak … We should be able to voice our concerns, and we shouldn’t have anybody take that right away from us.”
The Superintendent and School Board members maintain that, although they may disagree with the censorship decision made, the review of the yearbook spread was made in accordance with district policy, but as student JJ Holmes testified, “LGBTQ+ students in Seminole county are being erased in their yearbook, so how about the School Board erases the policy instead of erasing the students.”
We look forward to engaging with the Seminole County School Board in coming days to discuss ways in which they might adopt a student media policy that provides clear guidance about the bounds of protected versus unprotected speech and ensures the robust protection of student journalists’ press freedom rights in Seminole County.
SPLC thanks the dozens of students, parents and advisers, including the staff of the Lyman High School yearbook, who gave public comment at the May 10, 2022, school board meeting.
See highlights from the school board meeting: