Pictures of cheerleader, same-sex kiss spark yearbook controversies


Fla. judge refuses team captain's request to delay publication's distribution; Colo. editors remove photo of girls smooching





Lesson for yearbook editors: Never leave out the picture of the\nschool's cheerleading captain.

Especially if her father is a lawyer.

Student editors and school officials at Satellite High School\nin Florida learned that lesson when the father of one of the school's\ncheerleading captains sought a court order to stop the yearbook's\ndistribution until his daughter's picture could be added to the\nteam page.

A Brevard County judge declined to grant the injunction, but\nthe Scorpio staff decided to correct the yearbook with stickers\nbearing the girl's picture rather than risk a further delay in\ndistribution.

The problem began when the pictures of two cheerleaders who\nwere incorrectly identified as cheerleading captains were displayed\non the team page while the photo of the true captain, Christie\nWilliams, was omitted. Cheerleading sponsor Judy Coleman admitted\nshe gave the yearbook the wrong names and agreed to buy stickers\nto correct the picture, according to Christie's father, Keith\nWilliams.

On the day the Scorpio was set to be distributed, Keith Williams,\nwho is an attorney, sought an injunction to force the school to\ndelay distribution until all of the yearbooks were changed. Williams\nacknowledged there was no legal basis for the injunction and said\nhe probably would not have gone forward with the suit even if\nthe changes had not been made.

But school officials and student editors were faced with either\ndelaying the release of the yearbook or making the change. Scorpio\neditor Stefanie Green said the yearbook was put into a difficult\nposition.

"[The injunction] really put us in a bind and we really\nhad no other choice," Green said. "It was just setting\na bad example."

Green said other students approached her and asked why they\nwere not given the chance to change their pictures like Christie\ndid. Yearbook adviser Mark Schledorn said he resisted the change\nbecause it set a bad precedent for other students unhappy with\ntheir pictures.

"I said I'm concerned that if I let you do this, then\nevery kid who comes down the pike who's unhappy with the side\nwe photographed of them or that their hair wasn't right can ask\nus to put crack and peel [stickers] over their pictures-even if\na mistake was not made," Schledorn said.

He said he believes Williams was using his legal connections\nto bully school officials into making the change.

"The idea that somebody could use their position as a\nlawyer to manipulate the publication into doing something was\ncertainly a little unnerving," Schledorn said. "From\nmy point of view, that's what he did."

Green questioned why a parent would go to such lengths over\njust one of many pictures of their daughter in a yearbook.

"To me, there are so many more important things in the\nworld than to worry about your picture not being in the yearbook,"\nshe said.

Williams said he believes he did the right thing to protect\nhis daughter.

"If I had to do it over again, I'd do it in a heartbeat,"\nhe said.

In a separate yearbook controversy, students at Boulder High\nSchool in Colorado staged a "kiss-in" to protest their\nyearbook's decision not to publish a picture of two girls kissing.

Gay and lesbian students as well as supporters kissed each\nother outside a school building after an underground newspaper\ncriticized the yearbook's decision not to publish the photograph.

School officials counter that the photo was not "banned,"\nand that the student editors of the Odaroloc made the decision\nbecause they could not inform the girls' parents of the picture\nbefore the yearbook's deadline. Protesters countered that photos\nof heterosexual couples kissing were included without parental\npermission.

"This isn't a picture that was banned or stricken by the\nadministration," Principal Chris King said. "They didn't\nwant a parent to open the yearbook and find out for the first\ntime that their daughter likes to kiss other girls."

Yearbook editor David Stevenson said he somewhat agreed with\nthe administration's concern about invasion of privacy, but said\nif it were up to the students, the picture would have been published.\nWith very little time to go before proofs were due to the printer,\nthe editorial board had no choice but to pull the photo, he said.

"[Administrators] definitely put a lot of pressure on\nus," Stevenson said.

Odaroloc adviser Ruth Palmer said she asked the photographer\nto get the girls' parents' permission to run the picture but there\nwas not enough time to get it before the page's January deadline.\nAnother picture was run in its place.

Palmer said students and administrators made the decision together\nto take out the photo.

"Coming out is a very sensitive issue at any place, and\nwe wanted to make sure that this wasn't being published without\ntheir knowledge," she said. "We're here to protect kiddos."

Stevenson said he expects the next yearbook to be more inclusive\nof homosexuals, acknowledging the decision discriminated against\ngays.

"We are applying a double standard, and that's not fair,"\nhe said.


Fall 2001, reports