Catholic school bans girl over Facebook photo, mother sues

Catholic school bans girl over Facebook photo, mother sues

Summary: A mother is suing her daughter's high school in the Philippines. The school banned the 16-year-old student from her graduation for posting a picture of herself in a bikini on Facebook.

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Update: Court halts student grad ban over Facebook bikini photos

On March 1, St. Theresa's College High School in the Philippines banned a 16-year-old student from graduation ceremonies on March 30 because of a photo on her Facebook profile. The photo in question, which was taken during a family outing, shows her wearing a bikini while holding a cigarette and a liquor bottle at a birthday party. The girl will graduate but has been told she cannot join her classmates in the ceremonies because she allegedly violated school policies, including immorality, exposure online, as well as smoking and drinking.

Court records showed on Wednesday that the school is being sued for the ban. The student's mother filed a petition last Friday with a regional trial court in Cebu City to allow her daughter to attend the ceremonies at the Catholic school. A judge is expected to rule on the complaint before this Friday's graduation.

Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali told CBS News today that the department will investigate a complaint by the girl's mother to determine whether the penalty was appropriate. The school declined to comment, but its lawyer said the sanction was imposed against the student for posting pictures on the Internet with "ample body exposure" and to "uphold the teachings of the Church."

In the legal complaint, the girl's mother claimed her daughter was not given due process before the sanction was imposed; the manuals handed out by the school every year to all students clearly state that a student as well as his or her parents should be given due time to explain their side of the story. She also said her daughter had "suffered sleepless nights" and was "compelled to bear hate toward the school" since she was told of the punishment.

Update: Court halts student grad ban over Facebook bikini photos

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Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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7 comments
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  • "School or Monastery?"

    This legal battle will have a quick end if the building (real estate) that the school operates out of is considered part of a monastery.
    Zurk_Orkin
  • So was this bikini shot on school grounds or at a school related function?

    If not then I fail to see the problem. Because they have personal issues with the way people live their personal lives. This just shows that some organizations are spending way too much time trying to spy on others on Facebook looking for a reason enact their judgment. The ironic part is that Catholicism says that you should not judge others but the Catholic religion is one of the first to pass judgment on others that they have no right to butt their nose in on the first place.

    I suppose I don't get why a school or church should have any say so what is done outside their doors and property. I understand that they have this rule that students are supposed to follow but I seriously think they are just doing this to be jerks because that is what they do. They run people's lives using fear.
    bobiroc
    • Just a guess

      But, seeing as you work for a school (I think), what would you do if some kids or teachers or parents started slagging you on Facebook? Would you still think that was right and proper and ok seeing it wasn't happening in your domain?

      Other than that, it seems you're under-informed in any meaningful sense vis a vis Catholic stuff.
      ego.sum.stig
      • RE: Slagging You

        I am going to assume for a second that slagging means insulting or making fun of. This student was not doing any of that. She was off school/church grounds at a private party and posted on her personal page. She made no references to the school or school functions (at least according to this).

        Now if some student was to say "The computer guy at my school is a jerk" then I could care less. Doesn't phase me. It is different if that student or parent calls me out by name and makes a threat against me or lies and slanders my name specifically.
        bobiroc
  • Was it the bikini shot that was over the top?

    Or the cigarette and liquor she was holding?
    Michael Kelly
    • Does "holding" mean using?

      Many people take photos of stuff or images of things that are counter to who they actually are because the very fact that the person they are in real life is counter to the image they are showing and those who know them find it amusing. Just saying....

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • RE: Does "Holding" mean using

        That is a good point actually. I still think the issue of being in bikini and having possession of alcohol and tobacco with the possibility of using it is a parental and legal issue. That is if it is illegal for a 16 year old to smoke and drink in the Philippines.

        If the student was presenting herself like this on a church/school website or school/church property or wearing clothing of that church and/or school it would be a different story. Also is it legal to bind a child to a contract like that where they are obligated to represent themselves to the church or school 24/7? I am not clear on how it is all done over there but the point is I feel religious organizations put their nose into other people's business way too much. They want to promote tolerance and acceptance but are the first to be intolerant or unaccepting of others.
        bobiroc