Pennsylvania: School District Burned by ‘Boobies,’ Troubled by Trojans

The Keystone State’s Easton Area School Board recently agonized over information about condoms in schools during a Policy Committee debate over how to regulate potential advertising in its facilities. A proposed new policy would permit companies to advertise on school property, such as on buses or in stadiums, but would restrict ads containing ‘lewd, vulgar, obscene, pornographic or illegal’ text or images.

Board member Matt Monahon raised concerns over the impact of this policy on condom ads, wondering whether the Board should specifically ban those. "If I were in Trojan's shoes I would say my product is neither lewd nor obscene nor vulgar nor pornographic," he remarked.[1]

School District Solicitor John Freund advised the Board that a vaguely worded policy could leave Easton schools open to First Amendment legal challenges, such as one waged in 2013 by two students who fought for the right to wear "I (Heart) Boobies!" bracelets. The students said they wore the bracelets to raise breast cancer awareness, but the district deemed the bracelets offensive and prohibited their wearing them on school property. The students took the district to court and won after a three-year battle, costing Easton $385,000 to reimburse American Civil Liberties Union attorneys and an additional $110,000 for their own legal counsel.

Monahon suggested that the Board word the district’s new policy to ban advertising that is "of a sexual nature."[2]

Board members noted that some Easton Area schools already make condoms available to students. Board President Frank Pintabone downplayed concerns that condom advertising would become an issue for schools in the district, noting that many students are already sexually active: "It's a reality of life," he said. "Do you know how many students we have pregnant?"[3]

Monahon countered by arguing that many parents would likely object to media in schools that encouraged condom use and, implicitly, sexual activity: “There are parents within the district who wouldn’t want this advertised to their children.”[4]

As local media covered the Board’s deliberations, public opinion began to be heard. Bushkill Township resident Chris Miller denounced condom availability in Easton Area schools in a letter to the Editorial page of the local Express-Times newspaper: 

“The district is considering condoms. What comes after that, a house of ill repute? Just think of the amount of money they will make. The district could also meet the concerns of the pedophiles…We are headed down the road to mass destruction because we are headed down a very immoral street. How do we do that? Well, we can continue the emasculation of our males and the silly program of putting pink on our boys. We also need to stop the phony blabbering on the "’War on Women.’"[5]

Board member Robert Obey suggested the superintendent should always have discretion over any ads in school facilities, but Solicitor Freund pointed to the ‘Boobies’ saga to illustrate the problems with leaving such matters to administrator discretion.

"That's why our policy needs to be carefully written," Board Vice President Kerri Leonard-Ellison said.[6] At her suggestion, the Policy Committee postponed its final recommendation on sexuality-related advertising, and tabled discussion until after October.

[1] Rudy Miller, “Easton Area School Board questions condoms' place in high school,” (Express-Times), October 8, 2014, accessed October 23, 2014 at

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Victor Skinner, “Board mulls in-school condom ads despite deeming breast cancer awareness bracelets ‘offensive’,” October 9, 2014, accessed October 23, 2014 at

[5] Chris Miller, Letter: “Immorality defined by 'boobies' bracelets, condoms in schools, boys dressed in pink,” (Express-Times), October 20, 2014, accessed October 23, 2014 at

[6] Jacqueline Palochko, “Easton Area School Board: Are condom ads bad idea?”The Morning Call, October 9, 2014, accessed October 23, 2014 at

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