Yearbook fight pits Lyman High students against Seminole school officials

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Yearbook fight pits Lyman High students against Seminole school officials

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Lyman High School yearbooks are on hold after Seminole County Public Schools reviewed the publication and found material that does not meet school board policy.

The school principal Michael Hunter announced Monday that the distribution of the yearbook would be delayed to assure it meets all aspects of school board policies, particularly pertaining to non-school sponsored events in school publications.

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The material in question are photos and captions documenting a student walk-out in March, a response to the Parental Rights in Education law, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

A statement sent by Hunter reads in part, “Unfortunately, the pictures and descriptions that depicted this event did not meet school board policy and were not caught earlier in the review process. Rather than reprinting the yearbook at substantial cost and delay, we have elected to cover that material that is out of compliance with board policy so that yearbooks can be distributed as soon as possible.”

Students said school administrators are requiring them to cover the photos with stickers. That prompted students to create the hashtag “Stop the Stickers” which is now circulating on social media.

Madi Koesler, a former yearbook student who now volunteers to help the class, said this is frustrating, so much so it brought her to tears.

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“If you come in and you cover their hard work with stickers to them that’s ruining it,” Koesler said.

Koesler recalled a walkout at the high school after the Parkland shooting, mentioning that too was not a school-sponsored event.

She said it was still documented in the yearbook.

“The only difference is we were advocating for gun reform and not LGBTQ rights,” said Gay Straight Alliance President Desmond Edwards.

Edwards said he believes the statement calling the LGBTQ walkout photos “out of compliance,” is invalid.

“How are we going to be inclusive if we have to cover up a part of our history, such a monumental part of our school year?” Edwards said.

Skye Tiedemann, Lyman High School yearbook editor-in-chief, said the student body is frustrated and awaiting their yearbooks.

“This entire school day I’ve just been having people asking me ‘where are our yearbooks, why can’t we have the senior party tonight?’” she said.

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Tiedemann said seniors were supposed to have a party where they could get their yearbooks signed Monday, but it was canceled.

Yearbook students said the fight is not over. They plan to peacefully protest Tuesday evening at the Seminole County Public Schools board meeting at 5 p.m.

They are asking students, parents, teachers and other members of the community to sit with them in solidarity.

The meeting will be at the Educational Support Center 400 E. Lake Mary Blvd. Sanford, Fl 32773.

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