Highland News Leader

Highland High School yearbook photo causes controversy

A photo in Highland High School’s recently released yearbook has the principal apologizing, saying students were trying to make a joke, not a political statement.

The controversy centers around the page featuring the yearbook staff, which was made up of 19 girls and two boys. On the page, the two boys are each holding signs. One says, “FEMINISTs” with an large “X” through the word. The other boys has a sign that reads, “Boys’ lives MATTER.”

“The boys were attempting to make light of being outnumbered, and unfortunately borrowed terms or icons associated with serious issues,” Highland High Principal Karen Gauen wrote in a letter to parents sent out on Friday.

In the letter, Gauen said the photo was brought to her attention on Thursday night. She said her investigation concluded: “Neither the boys nor the yearbook staff intended to make a political statement, diminish the important issues or come across as insensitive or intolerant.”

The photo made its way around social media Thursday and Friday. Gauen said the social media post “was cropped in such a way that alters the context and make the implication even worse.” The cropped photo focused on just the two boys, without the larger page of female yearbook staffers who also appeared on the page.

In her letter, Gauen apologized on behalf of the school and said it was a teaching moment for the students.

“Please know that this episode does not represent the beliefs of our students, staff or community. We strive to be role models, teaching our kids that all people are equal, regardless of gender, race, religion, orientation or beliefs. Sometimes, as in this case, such lessons are reinforced by honest mistakes.

“Please accept my apology for the distress this has caused,” Gauen wrote.

Curt Libbra: 618-654-2366, ext 21

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