10 Sexist, Homophobic and Otherwise Offensive Yearbook Editing Decisions
This is the time of year when yearbooks are starting to roll out -- and so are the accompanying controversies. Every year, it seems like a teen's photo is censored, removed, or altered to satisfy the whims of the administration, so instead of becoming a mode of expression and celebration, the yearbook turns into something that's more like a parting shot from school officials.
My high school didn't have a yearbook, because we were too small, which makes me kind of sad -- I like the idea of nostalgically looking through it (and forgetting half the people in the photos, let's be honest). But I know I'd be livid as hell if my school had tried to restrict a student's freedom of expression, and some of the stories below are pretty heinous, from cutting disabled students out of the yearbook to Photoshopping slutty, slutty shoulders so they're no longer bare.
Jessica Urbina Banned from Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School's Yearbook for Wearing a Tux
San Francisco isn't all peace, love, and the Castro. In Catholic school, if you're a girl, you're expected to wear a dress, not a tux, in your senior portrait. Jessica dressed in a way that she felt expressed herself, so the administration dropped her photo, and now students are fighting back (they've been wearing bowties to school in protest as well as taking to social media). The school claims that it welcomes students of all backgrounds -- but apparently it doesn't want the yearbook getting too queer.
(Some) Utah Students Photoshopped to Remove Terrifyingly Bare Shoulders
The only thing worse than censorship is erratic censorship, am I right? Wasatch High School administrators apparently selected students at random for terrible Photoshop jobs covering their bare shoulders in the yearbook, lest their appearance offend the delicate sensibilities of, uh, no one. The school claims the students were dressed inappropriately and needed to learn about the real world. I have to question why some of these young women were singled out for attention in a campaign that appears to have been designed to shame them for having shoulders. (And, in at least one case, tattoos.)
Disabled Student's Senior Photo Dropped From Yearbook
Last year, disabled student Sarah Stenshorn was all set to graduate with her class and, as part of the school community, to see herself in the yearbook. That wasn't to be -- her senior photo was removed, as were those of other disabled students. While some candid photos still remained, and the yearbook gallingly featured Sign Language on the cover, apparently showing actual disabled people in the senior class was beyond the pale.
Photo: Southern Poverty Law Center
A Narrow Victory for Jeydon Loredo
Last November, this transgender Texan was told that he could only be in the yearbook if he wore "feminine attire." He said a big fat "no" to that and, with his mother backing him up, fought the school district and won: He'll be pictured in the yearbook with the senior boys, just like he should be. Loredo's situation isn't uncommon, especially in conservative school districts, where trans students are often faced with the ultimatum of not appearing or being forced to appear with students of the wrong gender.
Taylor Ellis' Coming Out Story Censored from Yearbook
This Sheridan High School student is out and proud, so it was natural to talk about his sexuality in his senior bio. Or at least, so he thought, until school officials informed him that they'd be pulling his bio, along with those of six other students, for "not meeting with the mission of our school." His profile covered what it was like to come out in a sometimes less-than-accepting community, and made for a sharp, fascinating, and moving discussion of what it's like to live in Sheridan as a gay teen -- but students won't be reading it in their yearbooks.