Senior's photo deemed too sexy for yearbook

Sydney Spies, 18, submitted this photo to her high school yearbook in Durango, Colorado. The yearbook staff rejected it.

Story highlights

  • Durango High seniors can submit their own photos, with approval
  • Student committee says one girl's photos were inappropriate
  • Student's mother says she has contacted the ACLU for help
A high school senior's racy picture is causing controversy after the yearbook staff refused to publish it, calling the picture inappropriate.
The photo shows 18-year-old Sydney Spies in a short skirt and revealing top. She had it taken by a professional photographer in her hometown of Durango, Colorado, and submitted it to the yearbook with her mother's approval.
"She tells me that she has grown tired of seeing all the boring pictures submitted, and she wanted to do something different," said Sydney's mother, Miki Spies.
Seniors at Durango High School can submit their own photos to the yearbook. They often choose pictures that reflect their interests, like sports or music.
A committee of five students determines whether the photos are acceptable. They rejected Spies' photo, calling it inappropriate. A second photo, showing her in a short dress against a brick wall, was also rejected.
"There's something wrong when people can't express themselves in their own yearbook," Miki Spies said.
The Durango School District says it wasn't part of the process, but it supports the decision of the yearbook committee.
According to spokeswoman Marty Kay Hutton, "The student editors of Durango High School's yearbook informed a senior student in December that her photo in question would not be included as a senior portrait in the yearbook and asked her to submit a replacement. Durango School District administration supports this decision."
Miki Spies says her daughter should be able to express herself, just like any other student.
"There are no standards that are required for yearbook photos. She's into the arts outside of school," Miki Spies said.
The photos have outraged many as the story has spread. On a Facebook page set up by the family, some of the comments are extremely negative:
"Too sexy for a young woman. Think of how you will be remembered for the rest of your life, in the eyes of your classmates."
"You are gross and your parents are losers like you are."
Miki Spies says that she is surprised by the comments but that they have strengthened her resolve to fight for her daughter. She's not sure what they will do next but says she has contacted the ACLU for help.
"I'm a fighter for the underdog, and I hate the abuse of authority," she said. "I'm surprised more Americans aren't on the side of freedom of expression anymore."