July 20, 2012
Several states have considered allowing advertisements on school buses in an effort to raise revenue for distressed public school districts. Unhindered advertisements on buses may result in children being exposed to advertising that undermines public health or encourages unhealthy behaviors, according to a paper recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.
School districts should be aware of First Amendment case law related to government property so they can enact policies to prohibit advertising that is inappropriate for a school setting.
“By enacting and enforcing such policies, school officials can maintain control over the speech permitted on school property, including buses, to protect children while in their care,” said author Jennifer Pomeranz, JD, MPH, Director of Legal Initiatives at the Rudd Center.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood reports that Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico currently allow advertising on the exterior of school buses. Eight states, including New York, Rhode Island, California, Washington, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, and Indiana, considered legislation this session that failed to pass.