Montgomery County schools consider banning flier distribution

Montgomery County schools consider banning flier distrubution

The Montgomery County Board of Education is reconsidering its policy on flier distribution by non-profits.

The consideration comes after a recent controversy when students received information from a group that says it can help people who don’t want to be gay.

Students at Whitman High School receive everything from PTA announcements to non-profit or school activity hand- outs.

“I don't really read them, so I just throw them away and I think it's just a waste of paper,” said Montgomery County Public Schools student Elena Kozak.

The Montgomery County School Board is taking up the issue, but it's an earlier incident that encouraged school officials this week to introduce a possible ban on nonprofit fliers.

“In February, we had quite a bit of uproar over some backpack fliers that went home,” said MCPS School Board member Patricia O’Neill.

At that time, a group known as parents and friends of ex-gays and gays distributed thousands of leaflets to schools saying homosexuality is a choice. A gay rights group countered that message with its own fliers. As it stands now, nonprofits are allowed to send materials home with students in all grade levels up to four times a year.

“The board has recommended that we change that policy so that only elementary school children will carry home fliers next year, if the board takes final action,” O’Neill said.

Ninth grader Olivia Weals says that limiting the distribution could end up hurting some students and non-profits who just want to get their word out.

“A lot of these organizations like boy scouts and girl scouts, it's really hard for them to spread the message around to people who need to hear because they appeal to younger audiences,” Weals said.

Nowadays Betsy Wittleder, a parent at Whitman, says she turns to the web for school information.

“There are school listservs and that's how I get my primary information, that's probably why I don't pay attention to what's coming home in the backpack anymore,” Wittleder said.

The MCPS community has a chance to voice concerns until the end of May. The National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement saying it's willing to work with the school board.