Recently a special needs student with Down Syndrome was left out of her school’s yearbook because, we can guess, because her photo wasn’t portraying what school administrators wanted their learning environment to be about. Link to full story

At about the same time, there were two senior young ladies who stepped outside the traditional girls’ outfit for a graduation photo. Instead, one wore a tuxedo with a bowtie and the other sported a regular tie and jacket. They got zapped by the wrath of their school administrators who didn’t allow their photos in the yearbook. Link to full story

Along with the above, the photos of two other young ladies who posed for their senior shots baring too much skin got updated, thanks to photoshop, appearing in tops that covered cleavage and tattoos. Link to full story

Where’s the equal opportunity for rejection here? Where are the male students being zinged for not representing their schools in a manner approved by the higher-ups?

Oh, it happens!

My eleven-year-old son was yanked from the photo lineup and sent to his counselor’s office and instructed to dig through a box of discarded dress shirts to find something more “suited” for a class photo than the t-shirt he was wearing.

“What!” I screeched, as he told me this tale of discrimination. “Quick, find that announcement you brought home.”

It was recovered from the kitchen bulletin board. No instructions were contained therein as to who was to wear what.

Fifty years ago there was no Twitter hash tag. There was no Facebook to send out the word.

Fifty years ago, it was old-time communication; I went to see the principal. Charlie Lett was his name. And with no shame, he said, “Yes,” he’d removed my son and another kid who wore a t-shirt and he said they didn’t present a good image of the school.

Lett informed me the other kid changed shirts but that my son didn’t want to use the substitute one offered to him.

“Uh, huh,” I said to myself as I left his office.

Next stop—the Board of Education Office on South Hudson Avenue in beautiful downtown Pasadena. I met with two assistant superintendents who treated me like I had no business making a fuss.

They thanked me for having made the appointment but indicated Lett was just doing his job.

“Uh, huh,” I said out loud as I left.

Next stop—Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

I told the story. He didn’t like what he heard. He picked up his phone. Told his secretary to dial up Charlie Lett.

Lett got on the wire and Cortines had just one sentence.

“This is Ray and I want a photographer at that school and i want every 7th-grade student’s picture taken even if they’re wearing a Halloween costume.”

He hung up, turned to me, smiled and asked if there was anything else I needed.,

Here we are fifty years later and it’s  clear—some things never change


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Laura Monteros

    How many people besides the students and parents even see these pictures? Sheesh. But beyond that, none of these kids was inappropriately dressed. The one girl was just wearing a sundress. Michelle O bears her shoulders all the time and gets compliments, why can’t this young lady?

    The girls in “boys” clothes? Well, when I was playing concerts, I often wore black pants, a white shirt, a black jacket, and a bow tie with my long hair and earrings. No one ever said to me, “That’s male dress, wear a black blouse instead.”

    As far as the young woman with Down Sydrome–well, there aren’t words for this. There is simply nothing to say to educators who are so bigoted, insensitive, insulated, conformist, and ignorant.

  2. Jean Troy

    Ignorance is running rampart in our schools, it seems everyone is trying so hard for how things “look’ not how they are. Judging a costume or a look as wrong is the worst thing a school can do to foster a students poor imamage of them selves.

    I agree if a dress code is to be established why are’nt the parents notifyed? As far as the child with down syndrome everyone on the staff responsible for such a descision should be fired including the photographer and the editor supervisor for the year book.

    Looks are not what we should be striving for it is the soul of our students and their good will.

    Don’t worry as adults we will look back and wonder why dear God why did we decide on that ourfit or hairstyle for the school year book.

  3. -Nate

    I’m glad to hear Mr. Cortines stood up and did the right thing .
    I’m _appalled_ that anyone would cut a Disabled Child out of the loop ! .

    They should be loudly and repeatedly shamed on every social media link possible .


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