When it comes to implementing arbitrary, or just straight-up nonsensical rules, there really aren't many other institutions that can top schools. Whether it's serving people microwave pizzas and mixed vegetables with chocolate milk at 10:45am, or forcing dress codes that are more money-making schemes than an exercise in discipline, schools have some truly head-scratching policies.
But this one Florida school's yearbook policy for 2021 has a bunch of parents confused and outraged.
According to the St. Augustine Record, Bartram Trail High School refunded dozens of families for $100 yearbooks where pictures of female students were photoshopped "for modesty."
A photo of Riley O'Keefe, 14 years old (when the photo was taken) shows her actual picture side-by-side with the one that ended up in the yearbook. The yearbook picture shows a black box over her chest resulting in a Roblox-esque looking cardigan effect.
The high-schooler spoke with local news station News4Jax about her initial reaction to seeing her picture in the yearbook: "There's a black box over my chest and the cardigan on the side like moved over and it looks really awkward and I was very confused."
Reporter Ben Ryan uploaded the picture on Twitter where it received a ton of retweets and responses. Pretty soon, he began posting other examples from the school yearbook where photographs of female students were altered in an attempt to make them more "modest."
After a ton of parents complained, the St. Johns County School District said that they would indeed issue refunds under the condition that the books were returned.
The school did say in a statement to the outlet that the new measures were made in an effort to keep all students, even those who didn't comply with their dress code could be included in the yearbook.
"The digital alterations were a solution to make sure all students were included in the yearbook," News4Jax reported. The school's website for the yearbook also states that some alterations might be made in order for student photos to comply with dress code rules.
"All images in ads and all individual student pictures must be consistent with the St. Johns County School District Student Code of Conduct or may be digitally adjusted," the website reads.
However, one parent told the St. Augustine Record that the message the school is imparting to female students isn't a healthy one. "I think it sends the message that our girls should be ashamed of their growing bodies, and I think that's a horrible message to send out to these young girls that are going through these changes."
Reporter Ben Ryan attempted to speak with the Superintendent, the school's Principal, the edits made to the photos, or someone from the yearbook committee, he tweeted a screenshot of the response that he received.
The one question that seemed to be on everyone's minds was that if it was such a big deal for the female students to be wearing these tops in schools, then why were they allowed to pose for their yearbook photos in said clothes in the first place?
Some parents even pointed out that their daughter wore that same exact top to school a ton of different times and "never got in trouble."
Ben pointed out that no males' photos were edited in the yearbook and a total of 80 girls had their pictures doctored to comply with dress code standards.
After interviewing several students and pressuring the administration for answers, the school responded that a single female teacher who was working on the yearbook had made the decision to make the edits and did so with the help of two other students.
A spokesperson from the district has stated that these same edits existed in previous yearbooks and parents whose students are in the school said that they were never made to this sort of "extreme" before.
One particular part of the school dress code's terminology that stood out to be people was the word "distracting."
Others commented that they were just happy they didn't have to go through the weird Tuxedo and Black dress school yearbook motif.
While some just couldn't believe that anyone would find the original, un-edited clothing that the girls were wearing in their yearbook as "indecent or vulgar."
Others mentioned that having dress codes for different genders/sexes is illegal, however, this is not the case. Dress code and grooming laws allow for workplaces to have different dress codes for employees based on their gender/sex, however, an "unfair burden" cannot be placed on said gender.
For example, forcing women to wear high heels in the workplace can be considered an undue burden, as they're known to cause bunions and a litany of other health issues. Seeing as Bartram Trail has had a dress code in place for a long time, it's hard to ascertain whether or not certain shirts would be seen as an "undue burden."
There were some parents who seemed to appreciate the school "covering up" their daughter's bodies to "protect" them from "creeps."
What do you think? Does the school have the right to edit the yearbook photos? Or is the real offense here turning a cardian into NES graphics?