Bartram Trail’s edited yearbook photos reflect outdated dress code

For some, picture day at school can be a source of anxiety, particularly during those awkward high school years. Students stress about trying to decide what to wear that will be cool enough, cute enough, memorable enough, appropriate enough.

Now imagine picking out that perfect outfit and smiling the perfect smile, only to open your yearbook months later and gasp in horror.

Dozens of students and parents are outraged because the yearbook photos of at least 80 female students at Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County, Florida, were edited without consent. Students with bare shoulders or low necklines were hastily covered with digitized black bars or ill-matching splotches of fabric.

The edits are as inherently sexist as they are unsightly. 

The school is offering yearbook refunds if students turn in the book and it hasn't been written in or signed.

A bit of background: Bartram has been under fire for the disparate way dress code policies have been enforced between boys and girls, and for excluding gender non-conforming and transgender students. This latest move is so out of bounds, so punitive, it’s almost laughable. There are group photos in the yearbook that include the boys’ swim team wearing nothing but bandage-sized briefs. Those pictures were not edited. Of course.

Newsflash: Teen girls have boobs. 

And forcing them to hide their bodies, particularly developing bodies, sends them a message that they should be ashamed and embarrassed of their anatomy. It is teaching them that their bodies are somehow inappropriate. It is objectifying and sexualizing them.

It is wrong.

Christina Langston, a school district spokeswoman, told The St. Augustine Record that a teacher who also serves as the yearbook coordinator made the edits after deciding some of the photos violated dress code. These students were permitted to wear these outfits throughout the day without reprimand, but later were made to look clownish. 

“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,” Langston told The Record.

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