We need to talk about these digitally altered Florida yearbook pictures because this is an example of dress code policing going horribly wrong.
Let me share a little background on the story. A student from Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County, Florida, went to the media after noticing her photo in her high school yearbook had been digitally altered. More than 80 photos were digitally altered and not very well, in my opinion, by the yearbook teacher. The reason given is that these student’s tops did not comply with the school’s dress code. These students are upset. These students were not cited for dress code violations on picture day. The school has offered a refund on their yearbooks if the books had not been written in.
On Monday, the Superintendent stated there would be a change in its yearbook editorial process.
“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,”
Superintendent Tim Forson said.
The district will live-streaming its school board meeting to discuss the yearbook issue, its dress code, and its enforcement.
Do Schools need Dress Codes?
My opinion has evolved on the issue of dress codes. I wrote an article in 2015 called A Case for Dress Codes and another article called Preparing High School Students for Adulthood? with each piece coming to a different conclusion. Dress codes aren’t anything new. Since public schools have become mandatory in the United States, there have been regulations about what students could wear and how they could do their hair. Why are we so bothered in 2021?
The country has become less formal in the last 100 years. We have moved away from dresses and slacks to school to wearing jeans and leggings. Unfortunately, in modern times female students are being cited for more dress code violations because their clothes are seen as “sexual” or “distracting.” Unfortunately, those are the words being used in school dress codes. Roanoke County, Virginia, has the right idea with its dress code. It’s gender-neutral and gets to the point. Schools should have rules against students wearing tops that promote beer, porn, or hate groups. Dress codes should tell a student that they need to wear non-mesh clothes. Schools shouldn’t be telling young women that there is something wrong with them because they are maturing faster than their classmates.