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Yearbook controversy a time for discussion

Posted by on Jan 8, 2012 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


This week’s events involving a submitted senior photo for Denver-area yearbook create the potential for discussion and introspection, not only on student media staffs, but also with the communities they serve.

In the situation, a senior girl submitted as her senior portrait a photo of her wearing a yellow, short skirt and a shoulder and midriff exposing black shawl.

Some news reports say student editors approved the photo and the administration blocked that idea. Newer ones state the student editorial board made the decision.

Questions arose whether she should be permitted to use that image, was the publication a forum for student expression and who had the final decision of content. Some comments even questioned whether a yearbook should be afforded the same First Amendment rights as newspapers.

All are makings for eventful class discussions:

• What is appropriate dress for senior photos in yearbooks?
• Are dress code violations the same as First Amendment violations?
• Who makes that decision?
• Does a yearbook have the same rights as newspapers in schools?
• What is the yearbook’s role?

We hope these discussions occur and focus on key points, and we hope stakeholders reach these conclusions:
• Student editors make final decisions over all yearbook – and all student media – content.
• Yearbooks deserve the same rights as student newspapers.
• Yearbooks are designated public forums for student expression and not just public relations tools.

We hope you will let us know how those discussions go and what your students say is the purpose of scholastic yearbooks.

For more information about the original situation:
• Colorado student banned from yearbook over racy photo (well, she was not banned, but you get the point on reading the story)–abc-news.html
• Colorado yearbook was not censored in weirdly popular ‘navelgate’ story
• Student editors make call on yearbook photo
• High school student’s senior picture removed from yearbook for violating dress code


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