A Colorado high school senior's yearbook photo won't be running next to the rest of her classmates' portraits because the student yearbook staff found it too inappropriate, the Durango Herald reported.
18-year-old Sydney Spies submitted a photo of herself dressed in a short yellow skirt and black midriff and shoulder-baring top to run in the Durango High School yearbook. Her photo was rejected by the staff, who said they didn't want to negatively impact the quality of their yearbook by running something unprofessional.
Spies said school administrators initially told her the photo couldn't run because it violated the school's dress code, requiring tops "fully cover the chest, back, abdomen and sides of the student." She launched a protest Wednesday, waving signs in front of the high school and saying her First Amendment rights had been violated.
"It’s a little different from everyone else’s picture," Spies acknowledged to the Herald. "I feel like they aren’t allowing me to have my freedom of expression."
But the yearbook's student editors said Thursday that decision to yank the photo wasn't the administration's call, but theirs.
"The administration really had nothing to do with it," Tevan Trujillo, a student yearbook editor, told the newspaper. "It was us."
They also said they didn't pull the photo because of the dress code.
“We are an award-winning yearbook," Brian Jaramillo said. "We don’t want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional."
Instead, the photo can run in a section reserved for paid senior advertisements in the back of the yearbook, usually featuring "shout-outs" from family and friends.
Durango High School principal Diane Lashinsky told the newspaper she was aware of the student editors’ decision not to print the picture, and said she supported them.
Spies, who had plans to speak to a lawyer about the case before it emerged that it was the editors' call, said she feels betrayed by her fellow students.
"The editors all turned their backs on me and changed their minds," she said. "I really do feel like they were intimidated by the principal."
Yearbook adviser Tammy Schreiner told the Herald the decision not to run the photo was the students’ alone.
“I can tell the kids all of the things that will happen if they run it and all of the things that will happen if we don’t run it,” she said. “But I know that if I personally pulled it, I would be as guilty of censorship as anyone else.”
According to the Herald, the yearbook staff made a similar call two years ago when it opted not to run the photo of a male student posing bare-chested.