A Florida high school is under scrutiny for the second time this year after a dress code incident left droves of female students mortified and furious.
At least 80 female students who are attending Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns, Florida, allege their yearbook photos were digitally altered without their knowledge or consent as their clothing was cited as “immodest.”
When the yearbooks were handed out late last week, rumors began to spread.
Riley O’Keefe, 15, was finishing up her freshman year when she heard through other students about the photos but didn’t believe them until she finally got her copy and went to her name.
O’Keefe’s freshman year photo was there but her outfit had been modified with a black bar added to block out the slightest hint of cleavage and another one on the side of her cardigan, which eliminated the curve of her breast. At first she laughed it off but as she spoke to other students about how their photos were altered, she began to get angry.
But O’Keefe was not the only one. At least 80 photos were altered n the year book — all of the female students and most to block out their chests.
Not surprisingly, none of the photos of the male students appeared to be altered. There was even a boy in Speedo swimsuit that was not touched at all. Yet, most pages dawned poorly edited photos of females to not so subtly cover up any hint they may have breasts.
As soon as school let out and students informed their parents — that is when the angry phone calls and emails began.
Parent Adrian Bartlett was afraid of how this choice would affect the girl’s self esteem.
“I think it sends the message that our girls should be ashamed of their growing bodies, and I think that’s a horrible message to send out to these young girls that are going through these changes,” Bartlett shared.
And of course, many of the girls agree with this stance and have been demanding an apology. Superintendent Tim Forson admitted that there was “not sufficient review of the steps taken before the decision was made to edit some student pictures.”
But according to O’Keefe — the comment is not sufficient. “They need to recognize that it’s making girls feel ashamed of their bodies,” she admitted.
If you can believe it, this is not the first time the school has had a run into controversy with the dress code.
Previously, the high school’s procedure were to to leave out any photos that were considered in violation of the student code of conduct. The digital alterations “were a solution to make sure all students were included in the yearbook.”
The school has since attempted to calm the waters by offering students who bought the yearbook a refund while also taking feedback for next year’s yearbook. Just a few days later, the superintendent finally came forward with an apology. Now the next steps are to change the school’s dress code policy….
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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