KIRKWOOD, Mo. — Missouri parents are raising questions about “racy” content in their children’s yearbook.
Inside the 400-page yearbook at Kirkwood High School is a portion where students share their opinions on hookups, the concept of a casual sexual relationship, and its benefits and consequences. A picture of birth control was in the background.
Kirkwood parent Derek Byers has seen the yearbook. His son, Wyatt, is graduating in two days. Byers ran the Kirkwood scholarship program for six years. He said he’s in touch with student life and is not upset about his son’s yearbook.
“The students of Kirkwood are provided a very unique autonomy. The autonomy is both in the school yearbook and the newspaper,” Byers said. “This has been a tradition in Kirkwood for decades.”
The Kirkwood School District released a statement on Thursday saying:
Kirkwood High School has a longstanding tradition of allowing student media to be designated public forums. This practice has led to the Kirkwood High School journalism program being one of 16 programs in the country announced by the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association, and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society as a First Amendment Press Freedom Award school for 2023.
As school officials do not engage in prior review, the content of KHS Media is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself.
“I don’t have an issue with this. If I were a kindergarten parent, this would blow my socks off,” Byers said.
“But now having a student who has finished high school, I think it represents what they’ve experienced during the past four years, from ages 14 to 18, socially. I think it’s fine for them to discuss it openly. I think things were suppressed when we were kids. It was a voodoo topic.
“With social media, it’s a different world these days. I don’t think it’s salacious in any way. It just represents what the students thought was pertinent to their lives.”