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Student Editors Say They Made Decision To Pull Controversial Yearbook Photo

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DURANGO, Colo. (CBS4)- The student who is the subject of a controversial yearbook picture was told by her high school principal on Friday that the picture will remain unpublished.

Sydney Spies will have to find another picture if she wants a place in the seniors section of the yearbook. Spies, 18, said the picture is simply an expression of who she is.

“People might think it’s scandalous or shocking at first, but I think it’s a pretty picture of me and it’s my choice, I’m 18 years old,” said Spies.

But it’s not her choice to publish it in her high school yearbook. When the student editors of the Durango High School yearbook refused, Spies protested and the controversy made national headlines.

Spies told CBS4 that she believes administrators intimidated the student editors. But one editor said it wasn’t the administration, their adviser or even the dress code that influenced their decision– they simply found the picture inappropriate.

The picture was banned from the senior section but it will be in the yearbook. Spies mother took out two full page ads in the paid section of the yearbook at a cost of nearly $600.

Yearbook editors can ban a picture because student editors have complete discretion over what to publish or not. Unlike the government, student publications are not bound by the First Amendment.

Lakewood High School Yearbook editors Geneviev Spiess and Christina Vessa said they’ve never had a student submit a photo quite like the one Spies is posing in.

Lakewood High School Yearbook Adviser Bob Giusto said at his school they have a very clear policy on what’s allowed and what is not.

“One student was very good with computer graphics and submitted half photo, half cartoon and it was not working for us,” said Giusto. “All rights have limitations. We have limitations in classrooms, what you can wear and say and the same holds true for the yearbook.”

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