Laney Sorensen, a recent Swallows Charter Academy graduate, knew that by taking her senior photos she wanted to honor who she is – but after the school omitted her photo from the yearbook, Sorensen knew she had to s ‘to express.
Sorensen submitted the photo of herself in a crop top and jeans with an LGBTQ + Pride flag draped behind her shoulders at the start of the school year. After graduation, the 18-year-old was surprised to find that the school was using her school photo ID instead.
Sorensen believed the omission of her photo was discrimination against her sexuality, but Swallows Charter Academy executive director Cindy Compton said the school’s concerns about the photo were simply and exclusively a dress code violation .
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In its “Student-Parent Manual”, the school declares that a student’s clothing and appearance style should not expose the cleavage, stomach, buttocks and back.
SCA has also reserved the right of directory staff to refuse an image if it is considered inappropriate.
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Compton noted that in the fall, the school sent letters regarding the phone book photos that indicated that appropriate attire was a requirement.
“As a K-12 school with a directory for all students, it is important that we do our best to create a directory that is suitable for all ages and grade levels, and we will continue this effort at the future, ”added Compton. .
Sorensen said the letter was essentially an outline of how senior photo submissions should be handled, noting that the letter said to use his own discretion and not to wear anything “too crazy.”
The recent graduate also found an inconsistency in this regard when she scoured the 2019-2020 and 2020-21 yearbooks for other graduate students who had also violated the dress code whose photos were not omitted.
“I’m sure I was honored because of the pride flag,” Sorensen said. “I admit I violated the dress code. But I’m sure it’s just because of my Pride flag.
Compton said last year, the school’s directory sponsor had sole responsibility for producing the entire K-12 directory herself due to COVID mitigation measures.
The sponsor was a Swallows teacher who was responsible for writing the yearbook.
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“However, that will change next fall when we have a class dedicated to building the yearbook,” Compton added. “We will also use better internal processes to consistently enforce our dress code.
“With more hands and eyes working on the directory, as well as some internal changes, we will avoid this inconsistency in the future.”
Compton noted that she was sorry that one of Sorensen’s last experiences in high school was one in which she felt censored, as that was not the school’s intention.
Sorensen said she learned from experience that she had to stand up for what she believed in.
“I have always been very candid about my identity,” Sorensen said. “Nobody really had a problem until it fell.
“So it taught me to hold people accountable and do whatever I need to do to set the record straight. Your voice is more powerful than you think, so be that loud and just as proud. as possible.”
Chieftain and Pueblo West View reporter Alexis Smith can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @ smith_alexis27.