scandals The 14 Biggest Yearbook Controversies  

Joanne Phillips
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Inspired by events caused by a list that set off a national yearbook controversy in 2011 that made a lot of parents very angry, here's a list of the most ridiculous yearbook controversies in recent memory. From scandalous outfits, to accidental nudity, to some really, horribly racist practical jokes, here are thirteen yearbook controversies that teach us all that hey, maybe someone should be proofreading these things.
Kentucky Basketball Player Era... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 14 Biggest Yearbook Controversies
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Kentucky Basketball Player Erased for Being Gay

You'd think playing starting point-guard would be enough to make you a member of the team. But that's not how the yearbook staff at Kentucky's Betsy Lane High School sees things. Did the homophobes in charge of putting together a two-page spread on the team seriously omit basketball star Dalton Maldonado's photo months after the teenager came out as gay?

Maldonado claimed it was an intentional slight, but Floyd County Schools Superintendent Henry Webb said it was an accident, blaming "sheer human error" for leaving Maldonado's picture out of the group. Webb noted that Maldonado does appear 15 other times in the yearbook, which, to be fair, is way more than a lot of people get (not that I'm bitter). Still, Webb promised an investigation into the issue.

Source: Huffington Post


Hidden Message Flips 'Em the Bird

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Video: YouTube
A student decided to have the words "F*ck Y'all" hidden somehow on the cover of the yearbook.

Shaker Heights High made their mistake when they decided to choose a student to illustrate their 2009 yearbook cover, but the student turned out to be kind of contrarian. Instead of taking his honored role seriously, like any boring person would do, he drew a picture that looked okay at first sight but contained a secret "F*ck y'all" message at further inspection. Kind of like a Magic Eye, only controversial.

You do kind of have to hand it to the kid for how he pulled it off. Apparently you have to turn the book upside down to really see the words.

Not sneaky enough though, since he was caught. The student gave his sincere apologies and then went on to work for Disney.


Lesbian Student Excluded For Wearing Tuxedo

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Video: YouTube
Ceara Sturgis wanted to be different for her yearbook picture. Instead of the typical frilly dress or low-cut blouse, the openly gay student in Mississippi wore a tuxedo for her photo, but school officials gave it the big thumbs down and just completely excluded her from the yearbook altogether.

It's really not the school's fault, though, and they were totally in the right because sources say that the entire school was accidentally sucked into a time vortex that transported all of them back to the 1950's and, you know, "it was a different time".

Her mother, Veronica Rodriguez, told the Jackson Free Press that "they didn't even put her name in it."

All because the girl felt more comfortable in clothes that expressed who she was than say, a costume? Rodriguez claimed that the school "yet again crapped on [Ceara] and made her feel alienated."

Even with a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union demanding that Ceara's photo be included in the yearbook, the Copiah County School District still refused. Apparently, district officials have prior legal cases backing up their decision.


16-Year-Old Coocha Exposed in Photo

First of all, yes, I went with "coocha".

One 16-year-old student's you-know-what made it into the yearbook, which hey, when I was her age, I barely made it into the yearbook at all, so at least she got in past her school picture. What? Just trying to find the positives here.

On picture day, the girl in question showed up to school without wearing underwear so as to not create panty lines in her yearbook photos. Usually a good move, unless you forget to wear a dress that's long enough to cover your lady parts.

The girl took her photo sitting in the front row in a green dress, but what set her apart from her "Pottery Club" peers was her, ahem, private bits on display for all of Sickles High School (and the world) to see.

Thousands of copies of the yearbook were already printed and handed out before students discovered her exposed body part.

The girl admitted that she indeed did not wear underwear and her mom said she would not force her to go back to school because of the revealing and embarrassing photo. #coolmom

Special thanks to the local news report to making the picture an even bigger deal and exposing the girl to even more humiliation. Journalism!


A Girl is Remembered as "Black Girl"

This, is a total fail. Sure, a lot of things went wrong in a lot of these stories, but this is one of the biggest fails in yearbook fail history. How the hell do you even-no, no... I'll let you read the story yourself.

Waxahachie High School isn't exactly known for its diversity and in a photo for the National Honor Society where there was only one black person in a sea of white people (they live in Texas), the yearbook staff drew a blank on the girl's name. She wasn't the same color as them, after all. So, they did what anyone does when they can't remember something: they put in a placeholder for her name. They labeled her only as "Black Girl," to be returned to when her name was discovered. Her name was to be changed back and everything would be fine.

Here's the kicker: they never got around to changing her name. Yes, "Black Girl" was still only known to the school as "Black Girl." Everyone go back a few years and let's all get our Fight Club style group-think going and say it. "Her name is Shadoyia Jones".

At least they capitalized "Black Girl" correctly...?...


Funny Face is Considered Gang-Affiliated

The fact that the headline for this could have been "Girl Accused of Throwing a Gang Sign with Her Face" shows how absurd this story was in general.

So, just because "Goofy" and "Gangster" both start with Gs, James Madison High School's teachers got really confused (and this is who's teaching our children?) and decided they were one in the same.

When administrators at James Madison High School saw the funny face 15-year-old Charlie Patton made in her yearbook photo, they flipped a lid. Clearly, this bright young girl's silly face would mean the end of all that is holy and would unleash hell and disorder upon the entire school district.

For the offensive look, get this (and prepare yourself): a wide gaping grin, big surprised eyes, messy hair.

The school officials, who had their sense of humor surgically removed, decided that this was not funny... but then they took it just a tad too far.

They compared her positive, light-hearted expression to that of throwing up gang signs. Yes, gang signs. I'm not one for violence, but I would love to see whatever gang they thought this girl was representing have an all out war with a rival gang... perhaps one that wears frowns?

Since when is smiling too big indicative of gang behavior? Maybe these teachers saw West Side Story one too many times.

School officials released a statement saying, "Since the yearbook represents the school and the students, the goal is to have every student presented in the best light...Students who make inappropriate faces or gestures or who do not follow the school dress code in their yearbook photos are asked to retake their photo free of charge."

It's a good thing that even through all the unnecessary drama, Charlie Patton is still smiling (as seen in the video above).


A High School Poll Page Discusses Sex Opinions, Drug Familarity

High school yearbooks often have a lot of fun with the survey page. It's a chance to present to the world (or the 0.01% of the world that actually have and look at yearbooks, as this is primarily an American tradition) the class of [insert every year ever here] and relive some of the trends experienced throughout the year.

Innocent, right?

Well, not so much for Pflugerville High School in Texas. The yearbook staff there decided to take a different spin on traditional surveys and instead asked students touchy questions like what they feel about sex, nicknames they've used for illegal drugs and the amount of times they drink on a regular basis; which, in my day, wouldn't have gotten past the initial idea phase.

There's even an entire page devoted to teen pregnancy (naturally). It features an expecting high school couple as well as a sonogram of their baby. All this was supposed to encourage kids to be responsible but parents, of course, just don't understand.

The district received a lot of phone calls and e-mails about the 2-page spread but released a statement saying that "The Pflugerville High School yearbook is a publication written by students for students and reflects the issues and trends at PHS in a given year. Each yearbook is a unique representation of the school's student body. Content is approved by a faculty advisor, and in this case, by the principal before publication. Pflugerville High School respects the viewpoint of parents and welcomes the opportunity to speak with them personally about their concerns."

Which kind of sets the tone that for every generation, there are just different standards of what's okay, and the fact that any parents get outraged about (non-racist, nudity or murder-related) things in yearbooks is pretty unfounded and ridiculous.

Also, a really uplifting part about kids today and the video above, and probably the only positive to come out of the whole thing is that, apparently, the girl in the wheelchair is getting some. And that is awesome. These kids are awesome.

Moving on...


Members of Black Student Union Given Offensive Fake Names

The Black Student Union (BSU) at Charter Oak High School in Covina, CA were victims of a foul joke when they received their school yearbook only to find that the names of theirs members were changed to fake, racially offensive ones. The names ranged from "Tay Tay Shaniqua" to "Crisphy Nanos" to "Laquan White," all of which are inappropriate under any context.

Widespread outrage within the community has come about out of this incident, but principal Kathleen Wiard would not state the disciplinary measures the school would use on suspected perpetrators.

Since the discovery of the insulting prank, Charter Oak High School did provide stickers with the correct names to cover up the false ones but only a few of them had been requested. Instead, most of the students graduated with the yearbooks, fake BSU names and all, proving that efforts of mending this incident were all a little too late.