Crystal Cumplido’s photo was one of two excluded from her high school yearbook because she did not comply with the female dress code. (Photo: Fox 40)
A California high school has found itself in the hot seat after leaving two young women’s senior photos out of its yearbook because of dress-code violations. In their photos, for the Lincoln High School yearbook in Stockton, one student wore a tux and the other a button-down shirt and bow tie, rather than the off-the-shoulder black V-neck drape required for girls.
“It’s not fair in any way, shape or form,” one of the omitted students, Mari Champagne, told Fox 40, calling the school’s move “gender expression discrimination.” Crystal Cumplido, meanwhile, told the news station she was shocked to find the photo of herself in a tux missing from the senior pages. “It’s like I didn’t even exist in Lincoln,” she said, noting that she chose to wear a tux because “that’s what I’m comfortable with.”
The case of the missing girls has prompted school superintendent Tom Uslan to both publicly apologize and to offer to reprint the yearbooks with the young women’s pictures included. No word on whether the dress codes — which appear to require that boys wear button-down shirts with ties — will be altered to be less gender-specific.
Uslan’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo Parenting, but he told Fox 40, “I sincerely apologize to anyone who has been adversely affected by this.” It’s not clear who was directly responsible for pulling the photos, but Uslan also said he believed the students were “wronged” and that it was “an inexcusable error that is inconsistent with our school district policies.”
Mari Champagne’s photo was also deleted from the yearbook. (Photo: Fox 40)
Champagne and Cumplido are just the latest high school students to be excluded from their yearbooks: In May, some New Mexico teen moms were upset to find the mom-baby photo page had been nixed from theirs, while, a school in Utah left out a page of special-needs students; in both cases, schools apologized and blamed “misunderstandings.” Earlier, a young woman in Ohio said she felt “insanely upset” about her yearbook photo, which did appear but had been digitally altered, with the word “feminist” removed from her T-shirt.
Dr. Barbara Greenberg, teen and adolescent clinical psychologist, finds these incidents deeply troubling. “It’s an adult form of bullying and exclusion, and an adult form of shaming,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “We all look back at our yearbook, it’s a tremendous milestone. Erasing someone from it is erasing a piece of a person’s history. And when you do that, you erase a part of who they are and send the message that they’re less than — and it’s a really horrible message that adults have to start to take a look at.”
Though she can’t be sure about administrators’ motives in excluding students, it’s likely to do with concerns over image. “They want to probably present their schools in the ‘best’ possible light, in their opinion — without pregnant girls, without special-needs kids, without girls who look like boys,” she says.