LOS ANGELES (LALATE) – Sydney Spies photos are now fueling a legal fight in her yearbook dispute with Durango High School. Sydney Spies submitted two yearbook photos to Durango High School editors. Both were rejected for inclusion. The second photo, while showing a provocative stance, depicted Spies wearing a full cocktail dress. Now Spies tells news she is ready to sue. And many fans are coming to her defense.
Sydney Spies’ Durango High School Yearbook photos scandal is wrapped up in a mess of confusion. Editors of the Durango High School have used the words “professional” and “award winning” to describe their own publication. But in the same breath, they have gone further to describe Spies’ pictures as more than just inappropriate.
At issue for Spies was a senior portrait. While some schools use headshots, Durango High School editors permit students to submit a full body shot. Spies submitted an initial photo, taken professionally (above). In it, she is wrapped at the midsection with only a piece of fabric. She is revealing her abs and shoulders.
But Durango High School yearbook editors rejected that first picture. They claim the picture is a violation of school dress codes, that it’s inappropriate for a yearbook portrait, and that its inclusion would tarnish the yearbook’s reputation. Editors have two years earlier rejected a male student’s submission also. But in that picture, the male teen had no shirt on at all.
So Sydney Spies submitted a second Yearbook photo. This time, she is wearing a full cocktail evening dress. Some cleavage is shown, and her pose is provocative. It too was rejected.
But Durango High School created a further web of confusion for the issue when it told Spies an option. If she really wants to depict herself with either pic, she can, but for a price. For $300, Spies can purchase an advertisement and use either picture in the commercial advertisement, Durango High School editors told her.
Therein rests the root of Spies’ legal dispute. Suddenly, the award winning, professional, yearbook thinks it’s appropriate to depict skin in a commercial format – a paid print advertisement – but not in a senior format – which is free. Durango High School asserts no wrongdoing. District officials support the editor’s decision. But Spies says she will sue.
But her arguments don’t rest there. Spies asserts she has a legal right to assert her artistic expression … through a senior portrait. Yet, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that student editors, and the school officials, may in certain circumstances censor school print publications and not run afoul of First Amendment rights of self expression. “If it’s going to be in the yearbook anyway, then why should I not be able to have it as my senior picture? That’s what I don’t understand,” Spies said.
On Monday, an apparent photographer for Spies’ yearbook photos posted a comment to Facebook. “We also took the opportunity while photographing her modeling portfolio to capture a few images that Sydney can potentially use for her Yearbook senior portrait.” Spies tells news she chose the pictures which best represents her. At least on Facebook, the reaction has been strongly in favor of Spies and her photographer. “You fight for what you think is right! I like the photos there is nothing wrong with them. I am a parent.”
Others felt the pictures are beautiful, yet not appropriate for a Yearbook. “I would stand by the school… They are beautiful pics for a modeling career, not a high school yearbook.” One simply wrote “I’m really not seeing what’s wrong with the pic being in the yearbook. It’s not revealing anything that a cheerleader pic wouldn’t. As for the photographer, great work. “