A Florida high school is facing a backlash after dozens of female students had their yearbook photos edited – to cover up their chests.
Bartram Trail High School has been hit with a barrage of criticism after 80 pictures were photoshopped in a bid to make them look more conservative.
School faculty are being accused of sexism because although female pupils had their portraits edited, a picture of the boys’ swimming team in speedos was left unaltered.
The efforts by the school to censor the cleavage look amateur, with obvious photoshopping of their clothes to make many of the pupils look flat-chested.
According to the school’s website, “all individual student pictures must be consistent with the St Johns County School District Student Code of Conduct or may be digitally adjusted”.
But none of the girls or their families were consulted about the editing and they didn’t find out about the photoshopping until they bought their copies, which cost $100 each.
“They looked at [our] body and thought just a little bit of skin showing is sexual,” ninth-grader Riley O’Keefe told ActionNewsJax.
“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.”
The school wouldn’t answer questions about the controversy but issued a statement, claiming that the unedited pictures fell foul of its code of conduct.
“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, so the digital alterations were a solution to make sure all students were included in the yearbook.”
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But Riley’s mum, Stephanie Fabre, slammed the school for hiding behind its code of conduct, telling a local radio station: “Yesterday she happened to be wearing the shirt again, so after school we went up to the school and asked if she was in dress code and they said yes.
“So my next question was, if the shirt is in dress code and is good enough for school and your school ID, why is it not enough for the yearbook?”
Following the backlash, the school has offered to refund the $100.
It’s just the latest salvo in a battle between the school and its students.
A Change.org petition, which has received more than 5,000 signatures since being launched in March, was started by pupils after “countless young women were taken out of their learning environment and sent to the dean's office where they were forced to change.
“All because of the lengths of their shirts, skirts, or the thickness of their straps”.
The petition adds: “Many young women were even asked to unzip their jackets so that an administrator could check what they were wearing underneath, and if they did not comply, they were threatened with suspension.”
The battle over the dress code isn’t the only thing Bartram Trail has been in the news for.
Its “V for Victory” statue is made out of debris from the World Trade Centre.
It was the only piece of WTC debris given to an American high school, and the sculpture was unveiled by former Florida governor Jeb Bush – the brother of ex-president George W Bush – on September 11, 2002, the first anniversary of the terrorist attack.
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