October 23, 2021

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Is Your School’s Dress Code Outdated?

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Does your school have a dress code? What are its rules? Do you consider them fair? Do you think they apply equally to both male and female students? Why or why not?

In “Yearbook Photos of Girls Were Altered to Hide Their Chests,” Maria Cramer and Michael Levenson report on a recent incident in Florida that many see as the latest in a series of crackdowns by administrators using outdated dress codes to police the way girls dress. Here is how the article begins:

There had been rumors all day that the yearbook photos had been altered, said Riley O’Keefe, a ninth grader at Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County, Fla.

When she finally got her copy, Ms. O’Keefe, 15, opened the page to her photo and laughed in disbelief.

A black bar had been added to cover more of her chest, she said. Then, Ms. O’Keefe thumbed through the rest of the yearbook. Dozens of other students — all girls — had similar edits, many of them clumsy alterations that covered more of their chests.

Ms. O’Keefe said she had been confused at first, then furious. Other girls approached her and said the alterations made them feel sexualized and exposed.

Many students and parents are now demanding an apology.

They said the altered photos were the latest in a series of crackdowns by administrators who have used an outdated dress code to police the way girls dress.

“They need to recognize that it’s making girls feel ashamed of their bodies,” Ms. O’Keefe said of the altered photos.

At least 80 photos of female students were altered. No pictures of male students, including one of the swim team in which the boys wore Speedo bathing suits, were digitally altered, according to Ms. O’Keefe and parents who saw the yearbook.

School administrators and district officials did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Bartram Trail, a public high school with about 2,500 students, says on its website that yearbook photos “must be consistent with the St. Johns County School District Student Code of Conduct or may be digitally adjusted.”

Christina Langston, a district spokeswoman, told The St. Augustine Record that a teacher who serves as the yearbook coordinator had made the edits.

“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,” Ms. Langston told The Record.

Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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