A Florida high school digitally altered the yearbook photos of 80 female students without their permission to cover up exposed shoulders and low necklines it deemed inappropriate, CBS News Jacksonville affiliate WJAX reported on Monday.
Officials of the St. Johns County School District said yearbook photos must follow dress code guidelines and that Bartram Trail High School’s yearbook coordinator, a female teacher, made the decision about which photos to alter.
Before-and-after photos of several of the female students clearly showed the edits, WJAX reported.
Ninth-grader Riley O’Keefe said that “The double standard in the yearbook is more so that they looked at our body and thought just a little bit of skin showing was sexual. But then they looked at the boys, for the swim team photos and other sports photos and thought that was fine, and that’s really upsetting and uncomfortable.”
O’Keefe added that the girls whose photos were altered are made to feel “uncomfortable” and that “their bodies aren’t acceptable in a yearbook.”
Another ninth-grader, Zoe Iannone, said the alterations were unfair and that she was “horrified” and “disgusted” over the incident.
However, Rachel D’aquin, a mother of a female student in the high school, expressed support for the adminstration’s decision to alter the photos, saying that “If parents aren’t teaching at home how daughters should dress and dress decently, then the school has to parent.”
O’Keefe vowed that she will not back down from her criticism of the policy no matter what others have to say, explaining that “The dress code and sexualization of young girls’ bodies has been happening for a long time. All the messages I get about people being thankful for me speaking out are worth it, and I’d do it a million times.”
The school said they will refund the cost of the yearbook to any parents who complain about the decision to alter the photos and return the yearbook.
In March this year there was another dress code controversy at the high school, when dozens of girls were taken out of class one day and told to unzip their fully zipped jackets in front of other students and teachers to reveal tank tops and sports bras, which were determined to be violations of the dress code, NPR reported.
In response to that incident, students posted an on-line petition stating that the dress code unfairly targets females and is “clearly based on the sexualization of young women and their clothing, especially since many girls are told they are dressed inappropriately or that what they are wearing may be ‘distracting’ to the boys.”
The controversy over dress codes has received national attention in recent years, with some organizations calling for reforms of the practice, saying the dress codes often create an environment where girls are made to feel ashamed of their bodies, and that the education of the males in the school is seen as more important, according to NPR.
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