School slammed for editing students’ yearbook photos to cover chests, shoulders
A high school in Florida in the United States was criticized after yearbook photos of its female students were digitally edited to cover their chests and shoulders.
Photos of at least 80 students of Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County, Florida, were said to have been given “clumsy alterations” due to violations of the school’s code of conduct, New York Times reported on Sunday, May 23.
Ninth-grader Riley O’Keefe stated that when she received her yearbook, a black bar was edited into her photo so less of her skin was shown. Similar edits were also seen when she looked through the rest of the yearbook.
O’Keefe added that other girls approached her, saying they felt sexualized and exposed. They also noted that the school’s dress code was “outdated.”
“They need to recognize that it’s making girls feel ashamed of their bodies,” she was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the school district’s superintendent, Tim Forson, said there was “not sufficient review of the steps taken before the decision was made to edit some student pictures.” He added that the school did not intend to embarrass or shame its students for the clothes they wear.
“Unfortunately, we are learning a valuable lesson in the importance of process and understanding that the intent is not always the result,” Forson said.
The district’s spokeswoman, Christina Langston, explained that the photos were edited by a teacher who served as the yearbook coordinator, as per St. Augustine Record yesterday, May 24.
“Bartram Trail High School’s previous procedure was to not include student pictures in the yearbook that they deemed in violation of the student code of conduct,” Langston said. She called the digital alterations a “solution” so all students could be included in the yearbook.
However, none of the male students had their photos edited, according to O’Keefe and parents who saw the yearbook. They added that the photos were altered without parental consent.
The school was slammed by parents, saying that aside from the poor editing, their children were being teased and the photos sent a “negative message” to young girls about their bodies.
“They’re all good students, and we’re going to focus on whether you have too much shoulder showing?” O’Keefe’s stepmother, Taryn, asked.
The school stated that it offered refunds for the yearbooks and is “receiving feedback from parents/guardians/students on making this process better for next year.” Dana Cruz/RA
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