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Greater Houston Skeptic Society Message Board › Cy-Fair ISD to allow church advertisments on school buses

Cy-Fair ISD to allow church advertisments on school buses

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A former member
Post #: 1
Hi! I've just joined the group & this is my first post. I saw some of your threads regarding Intelligent Design/Creationism in the classroom & thought you may be interested in another local religion-in-the-schools issue - namely Cy-Fair ISD's plan to allow advertisements on the exterior of its school buses. Most people aren't aware of this new program, since the district didn't seek public input before signing a contract with Steep Creek Media to implement the program. Obviously, it is meant to generate revenue for the cash-strapped district.

I'll say right off the bat that I think this is a bad idea, which is what prompted me to email Dr. Anthony, Cy-Fair's Superintendent, to voice my objection. I believe older children (high school aged) may be perfectly capable of understanding the commercial nature of these ads, but younger children (elementary aged) may interpret ads on the school bus as the school's endorsement of a given product or service, which is a powerful message indeed. I felt, at the very least, the ads should be restricted to professional services utilized by adults exclusively (i.e. tax, real estate, lawn care, etc.) so the search for funds wouldn't compromise our kids by allowing direct advertising to them.

The most troubling part, however, was a mention in Dr. Anthony's reply that he had only been contacted by a church & a real estate company thus far, both of which would be acceptable advertisers. I asked him to clarify whether he intended to allow churches other than Christian ones to advertise, as well as non-theistic organizations like Atheist & Humanist societies. His response was, "that remains to be determined." Really? Seems to me the Supreme Court has already made that determination pretty clearly - and the answer is they must all be given equal treatment. I wonder how residents of NW Houston would feel seeing a giant Atheist ad on the side of the yellow school bus carting around their kindergartner???
A former member
Post #: 18
I'm not a constitutional scholar but I think that this truly does represent a huge violation of the 1st amendment. I think your next step should be contacting the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Here is what I do know. A school is absolutely not allowed to put up any signs on school property relating to a church during any time period other than when the facility is being used by said church. A church can rent a public school space out for use by a church on weekends but they must charge the same rate as they would for any other group. Churches are not allowed to leave behind religions paraphenalia for kids to find on Monday morning. So I can't imagine how this could possibly be okay. Let Lori and Dan know about it ASAP.

http://www.ffrf.org/f...­
A former member
Post #: 2
Hi, Clay. That's what I thought, as well, so I contacted Americans United for Separation of Church & State and spoke with one of their senior attorneys, who educated me on the subject. It seems space on any piece of school property (i.e. school bus, rooftop, sports stadiums, marquees, school newspaper, etc.) can be designated as a "limited public forum" and access can be granted or rented to outside groups - even religious ones. However, speech restrictions must be "viewpoint neutral". This means that if they allow a Christian group to advertise in the space, they must allow other theistic & anti-theistic organizations the same access, applying the same standards to all of them. For instance, if they were to allow a Christian church an ad containing their contact info, mission statement, and time/place of service, they must allow an Islamic group, Wiccan group, or Atheist group the same, since a decision to deny them would be based strictly on opposing their viewpoint.
A former member
Post #: 19
I'd still want a look at that contract to see if they are charging appropriate rates for the space. I believe that they are required by law to make such records public. A letter to the school just to let them know that people are keeping an eye out might still be a good idea. Nothing inflammatory of course, just a neighborly how do you do and people who believe strongly in the seperation of church and state are paying attention kind of thing.
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