May 26, 2021


When 80 students opened their yearbooks at Bartram Trail High School, they were surprised by their pictures. The school had edited the photos to cover up minimal amounts of cleavage in many of the girls’ photos.

The school is now under fire for the censorship from students and parents in the district.

Riley O’Keefe is Speaking out

Riley O’Keefe, a freshman at Bartram Trail High School, was one of the girls who had her yearbook photo altered. There was a black bar added to her shirt to cover up some cleavage that was showing.

However, this outfit aligned with the school’s dress code, and it was a typical style that she would wear to school weekly.

O’Keefe and her mother spoke to CNN about their disgust for the school’s actions. Riley said, “I couldn’t believe that they printed the yearbook looking like that. And then I started to flip through the yearbook and saw more and more girls with their chest edited.”

Her mother also expressed her disappointment for the photoshop edit that was made to her daughter’s picture.

The 15-year-old’s mother claimed, “I know she’s worn (the outfit) in school hundreds of times because it’s like her go-to outfit.”

She believed the outfit complied with the dress code because, according to the handbook, females’ clothing must cover the shoulder and not be revealing or distracting. Any person would look at O’Keefe’s photo and agree that it aligned with this criterion.

Bartram Trail High School Makes a Statement

St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson also spoke to CNN. He has borne the brunt of the complaints from parents and students for the yearbook editing.

The school does have a disclaimer on their website saying that yearbook photos that did not align with the protocol will be edited. The issue, in this case, lies with determining what outfits fit the policy.

Forson said, “It is disappointing to be addressing the student picture situation in the Bartram Trail High School Yearbook. Certainly, there has never been an intent to embarrass or shame any student for the clothes that they wear. Unfortunately, we are learning a valuable lesson in the importance of process and understanding that the intent is not always the result.”

According to the school, the yearbook coordinator decided to alter the photos. The Superintendent acknowledged that the process of checking the images was not sufficient, and it will change in the coming years. Yet, he did say the yearbook coordinator was an outstanding educator.

Even though parents believed their girls aligned with the dress code, they want change in the policies. Adrian Bartlett, a mother of a freshman, also spoke to CNN.

She said, “You’re telling my daughter that she should be ashamed of that part of her body, that she should be covering it up. I think that’s the completely wrong message to give to young teenage girls who are already going through the body-shaming era and trying to understand themselves and then be comfortable with themselves.”

Bartlett’s daughter has struggled with mental health issues, and she said the yearbook has made things worse.

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