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High School Yearbook Article On Unwed Parents Stirs Protests

May 24, 1986

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) _ Protests over a high school yearbook article featuring an unwed couple and their child have prompted an apology from a suburban Kansas City school board.

The article includes a picture of Trina Barnes, a 15-year-old freshman; her boyfriend, Tony James, a junior; and their 14-month-old son. It quotes Ms. Barnes as suggesting that sexually active teen-agers use birth control.

After the yearbook was distributed last week at Lee’s Summit High School, there were angry calls from some parents, and some students said they were offended.

″It’s like the school was saying it’s all right to have sex,″ said Danielle Green, a sophomore.

Ms. Barnes said she agreed to be featured in the yearbook article because she hoped to ″let students know it could happen to them ... and it’s real hard to take care of a child and go to school.″

″Even if it just prevented one pregnancy that would be good,″ she said. ″I’m not sure why they’re all upset.″

The school board issued a written apology Thursday, saying that the article inaccurately reflected the board’s position on birth control and that responsibility for moral education should rest with parents.

″In no way does the district approve publication of the article in question which might be construed by some as condoning sexual activity by teen-agers,″ the board’s statement said.

School superintendant Stan Magady said that for those who object to having the two-page article in their yearbooks, the school district will pay the cost of having books sent back to the printer to have that section reprinted.

Principal Paul Munsen said there is no written policy on content of the yearbooks, but that the adviser is supposed to get permission before going ahead with any controversial articles.

Renee Hawks, a teacher and yearbook adviser, said Munsen had approved the idea of a story about a student with a baby as long as it wasn’t too controversial.

Mrs. Hawks said she didn’t consider the article controversial.

″We just had a misunderstanding,″ she said.

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