A faculty adviser has blocked a Fairfax County high school newspaper from printing an advertisement submitted by a bookstore for homosexuals that invites "gay teens and friends" to visit the store.
"I think it is inappropriate for high school age kids," Hud Clark, the adviser to the Saxon Scope, the Langley High School student newspaper, said yesterday.
But, Lauren Simon, editor of the newspaper, said the adviser is imposing his personal views on the students by "censoring" the ad, which was submitted by Lambda Rising, a bookstore at 2012 S St., NW.
School Supt. S. John Davis also agrees that the bookstore advertisement shouldn't run in the newspaper, according to Fairfax school spokesman George Hamel. However, he said Davis has not formally acted on the matter since it was handled by the Langley adviser.
According to Fairfax students' code of rights and responsibilities, the Langley students could appeal the adviser's decision to the school principal. If they are not satisfied with the principal's decision, they could appeal it to Davis. If still not satisfied, they could appeal to the county school board.
The controversial ad read: "Gay? Books, Magazines, Gifts for gay men and lesbians, their families and friends. Celebrate the gay experience at Lambda Rising . . .
"Gay Youth Group meets at Lambda Rising every Saturday at 3 p.m. Gay teens and friends welcome," the ad states.
The ad was sent to every high school in the Washington metropolitan area, according to Richard McGinnis, manager of the bookstore. He said the ad campaign in high schools was undertaken at the request of "gay youth in the D.C. area.
"We are trying to convey that there are gay high school students," he said. "We know how lonely it can be . . . How isolated they are. We wanted them to know that there was somewhere they could come. Our store is a positive thing."
However, Clark, the Langley student newspaper adviser, said the ad would influence students. "There are some who have not established their sexual indentity. This might tip the balance . . . The gay world is a fine world of its own, but it's fraught with problems."
"The censorship of information from others depends on a moral decision, unique to every person, and it is wrong for Mrs. Clark to expose in the school newspaper only that information which she feels is appropriate," Simon wrote in an editorial in the student newspaper.
"The issue is not the gay bookstore any more," Simon said yesterday. "The issue now is freedom of the press and censorship."
Simon, who is a senior, said the majority of the 28 students on the newspaper's staff favored printing the bookstore advertisement.
"At first, I didn't think it (the advertisement) was appropriate," said Jon Schnyer, a Saxon Scope reporter "but if she can censor this, she can censor anything."
Simon said, "I think it should run because it would be discriminating not to run it . . . If someone is interested (in the gay community), it's best that they learn about it through the store (Lambda Rising)."
She said the newspaper at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville printed the ad, apparently the only school in the Washington area to do so.
There was another dispute last year in Fairfax County involving the censorship of a student newspaper article on birth control. Court decisions upheld the right of the student newspaper at Hayfield High School to publish the article and it did.
Tom Cawley, an attorney for the Fairfax schools, said he didn't know what effect that decision has on the langley case.