After digitally altering female students' yearbook photos
to cover up their chests and shoulders, a Florida
high school sparked an outcry from students and parents.
According to student Riley O'Keefe and parents who saw the yearbook, at least 80 images of girls were edited in the yearbook for Bartram Trail High School, located just south of Jacksonville. No images of boys were edited, including an image of the swim team in which male students were shown wearing Speedo bathing suits.
Although the school claimed that the images were edited because the girls were in violation of the school's dress code
, students and parents slammed the policy as outdated, damaging, and sexist.
O'Keefe, a 15-year-old ninth-grader, discovered a black bar had been added to her chest in her photo, and she claims she was never told her outfit was inappropriate.
“It made me a little uncomfortable that that’s what they noticed when they looked at our pictures,” O’Keefe said to local news
station News4Jax, adding that the edits made students feel like their bodies weren’t acceptable.
Other students expressed embarrassment, sexualization, disgust, and shame to Action News Jax.
This is a before and after yearbook photo of Riley O'Keefe, a 9th grade high school student at Bartram Trail, which she claims was deemed inappropriate by the school and photoshopped in the printed edition. Parents and students are now demanding a major [email protected]
pic.twitter.com/f8MjkZMDOw — Ben Ryan (@BenRenRanANJax) May 20, 2021
We looked through the yearbook and spoke with several parents and students who all said at least 60 pictures, if not more, were photoshopped/edited. We were given permission to use these photos. @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/aTgV5XlUud — Ben Ryan (@BenRyanANJax) May 20, 2021
Adrian Bartlett, whose daughter, Brooke, is in ninth grade at the school and had her photo edited as well, told News4Jax that she was concerned about how the policy was being enforced.
“It was a little sad, a little concerning because my daughter has struggled with mental health
, self-esteem, and body
issues, which resulted in a couple of hospitalizations this year,” Bartlett said. “So this is just one more thing that could be super-detrimental to these young minds, so it’s, it’s scary.”
According to the school, yearbook photos must follow dress code guidelines, and a female yearbook teacher deemed the 80 edited images inappropriate.
“The previous procedure at Bartram Trail High School 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 ensure all students were included in the yearbook,” the school said in a statement to Action News Jax.
Dozens of girls were called out of class for dress code violations and forced to change or unzip their jackets so an administrator could examine what they were wearing earlier this year. O'Keefe started an online petition calling for change after that incident, which received over 5,000 signatures.
“The dress code 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,” according to the petition. “It is clear that the issue here isn’t what kind of clothing the young women are wearing, but how others interpret them.”