Officials at a high school in Florida are in hot water after being caught altering the yearbook photos of dozens of female students to make them appear to be showing less skin.
At least 80 female students at Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns, Florida, a suburb of Jacksonville, had their photos altered, according to a report by NBC affiliate WTLV in Jacksonville, which reviewed the yearbook photos.
The photos showed the students' clothing was digitally cut and pasted over what would have been exposed skin.
The alterations have led to backlash from parents and rights groups who are accusing the school of body shaming, noting that no male students' photos were altered.
An online handbook for the county states that girls at the school cannot wear shirts that are considered “revealing or distracting.”
In a comment to the St. Augustine Record, Christina Langston, the district chief of community relations, said the editing was done by a female teacher who concluded that the photographs violated the district dress code that “clothing that is immodest, revealing, or distracting in character is unacceptable.”
“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,” she said.
Following the backlash, St. Johns County Schools Superintendent Tom Forson called for a review of the district’s policies.
“I think one of the key pieces is not leaving it to any single staff member to make those kinds of decisions so that there’s a review process that probably includes either school administrators or other members of the staff, to help make those kinds of decisions, if, in fact, we were going to edit an individual student picture like that,” he said.
“I think what we want to do is to be fair to kids and to be consistent about how we look at things of this nature,” he added. “I think we can do better.”
The district stated that any student or parent who was unhappy about the alterations could receive a full refund for the $100 yearbook. Parents are planning to band together on Tuesday, May 25 at a Board of Education meeting to call for an update to the dress code.
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