Court halts student grad ban over Facebook bikini photos

Court halts student grad ban over Facebook bikini photos

Summary: Wear a bikini at a beach party -- forget graduation.

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A Philippine-based court, Cebu, ordered a Catholic girls' school to allow five students to attend graduation ceremonies on Thursday, after they were barred over photos on Facebook that showed them wearing bikinis.

Clearing the way for the students to attend their graduation rites, the court ruled that the school had no right to prevent their attendance due to the uploaded Facebook images.

A 16 year-old student at the Catholic St. Theresa's College -- her identity undisclosed as a minor -- landed herself in hot water with school officials after posting photos of herself wearing a bikini, as well as holding a cigarette and liquor bottle on the popular social networking site.

Officials at St. Theresa's College saw this behavior as contrary to the school's teachings, and therefore barred her from attending graduation. The student could still graduate, but would not be allowed to attend the ceremony.

According to court records, action was taken against the girls for "engaging in immoral, indecent, obscene or lewd acts".

The subsequent lawsuit was filed by the girl's mother to have the school's ruling overturned. Four other girls also faced the wrath of the Catholic school after being photographed in bikinis at the same beach party.

In court, the student was cited for violating rules in the school's student handbook, including "posing and uploading pictures on the Internet that entail ample body exposure".

Judge Wilfredo Navarro of Cebu City issued a temporary restraining order against the school, labeling its actions as 'unlawful' and 'unchristian'. The college was also ordered to treat the student "with kindness and civility befitting true graduates".

Navarro also took into account the reportedly unprofessional and unacceptable behavior of school officials to the girls, who allegedly called them 'inappropriate names' -- including 'disgusting', 'cheap', and 'drunkards'.

School officials have not chosen to comment, but did request the court to reconsider its verdict.

According to reports, the families of the girls will be filing charges of child abuse and 'grave oral defamation' against the school and its representatives.

Image credit: Jacrews

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25 comments
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  • Why is everyone siding with the girl?

    She's 16, drinking and smoking. She's going to a private Catholic school. If you choose to go to religious school then you need to abide by their rules. Do I agree with those rules? Well, if my daughter were 16 and drinking/smoking and she posted a pic of it the last thing she'd need to worry about is gruaduation. I'd be seriously upset. Yes, I get that kids at that age do these things. I certainly did. But I didn't leave evidence out there for all the world, including my parents, to see.

    And why is this any of a court's business? I really have a problem with government interference into the behavior of a school that the person is paying money to go out of their way to attend. If this were a public school, controlled by the government, then okay. But a private school? Unbelievable.
    LiquidLearner
    • Because even minors have rights

      That's why it went to court. And your comments about it being a private Catholic school reflex you complete lack of knowledge of the area. Of course she's going to a Catholic school, there aren't any good public ones.
      timspublic1@...
      • She doesn't HAVE to go there though

        She has rights. And she has the right to go to another school. If I were a parent and I disagreed with what the school was doing I would transfer to another school if it were a private school. If it was a public school then I would get the courts involved.

        The point is she doesn't [b]HAVE[/b] to attend that school. Because they choose to pay to go to that school then they agree to abide by the school rules. Even if they are stupid.
        LiquidLearner
      • Choice is an interesting concept....

        LiquidLearner

        I never choose to work. I could easily think of better things to do with my time and energy and far more enjoyable things as well:). Fact of the matter is to live I have no choice in the matter. Then there is the idea that I can choose where I work but that does not mix well with reality either cause not every place is hiring for every job at the same time and on a constant basis. So I take the job I can get and work for the company I may not like at a job I may actually HATE and LOATH. Again reality means my choices are limited. I was born diabetic so I need a job that provides health care as a benefit. So in my lifetime there haver been plenty of jobs that I could have taken but in actuality I could not because of my limited ability to choose or I would have died again a limitation on my options. This girl may not have wanted to go to college at all but her parents decided for her and likely for her better future. But still not her choice. She may have wanted to go to a different school but since her parent were paying again not the school of her choice. Now were the parent aware of all the rules and that this was a deal breaker? Perhaps not. After all what one considered wrong behavior that is not specified like say NO BIKINI'S while at a beach party might not be something I find offensive in the least and my child wearing a bikini would not be considered by me unless specifically mentioned as an offense against any schools policies. Now if my child wanted to wear it at school I could see and understand the problem. As for smoking and drinking? Does holding said mean using said? If that is not proven then yeah the parents have a case.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Terrible analogy

        @JQ

        Again, you don't [b]have[/b] to work for that particular employer. There is nothing saying you can't find a job you like better. You are [b]choosing[/b] not to. I don't see why you have such a hard time grasping such a simple concept. Are there requirement you want in an employer? Sure. But that doesn't change the fact that you have an option from multiple employers. And a Catholic school having a code of conduct that you agree to when join a school should not be something the government worries about. If they required her to "love the teachers long time" then it might be a different story. But I can't believe people can get behind someoen sueing a private school over something they have chosen to implement that isn't doing anything in violation of a person's rights. What ever happened to just going somewhere else?
        LiquidLearner
      • Like I said in my analogy I've had little choice...

        LiquidLearner

        Not every employer is hiring especially over the past few years to say the least so no options are very limited. Nor every job out there has Health Care as a benefit and that list is growing not shrinking and if the Tea Party has it's way it will get worse not better. Again options/choices limited.

        Now did the school specifically say in it's list of rules that the bikini was not an option? Did the school say that a picture holding a cigarette and or booze was also a problem for it even if the picture was in jest? I myself think the bikini is a great swimwear choice on the right form of course and I prefer the lesser string bikini again on the right form of course. I'd likely find the one the young lady was wearing too covering for my personal preference but hey I'm not going to go on this nations beaches and try to push my views on anyone. Last time I tried that I was chased off said beach anyway!!!

        Get another job is a great concept but reality is not so flexible you have economies and recessions/depressions Location where you purchased a house and it's not selling. Perhaps family you need to look after like elderly parents and such and can't pick up and move. Requirements like health care and others that limit choices Also not many employers admit during the interview process that "Hey were a collection of blanks who like to use our abilities to make our workers lives miserable in order to give us some sense of ego boost" And I've switched jobs on many an occasion only to find that the grass was indeed not greener just in a different location and pretty much the same old blank different place/day. If only life were as simple as changing your cloths or mind but it's often times not. Perhaps this girl as she grew decided that while the education was fine at the college she was not the same girl that began her studies there and is just out to finish up and not waist her parents money but getting her degree and say LATER to the schools philosophies of which she clearly does not agree and is her right. I don't know the whole story nor do you but to say all she had to do was go to a different school is over simplify problems many people face in actual very real life.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Everything is relative and sometimes just changing

        LiquidLearner
        jobs changes nothing. I've found very few employers admit to being "blanks". I've switched jobs a number of times but not always when I wanted too but often times only when a viable option opened up and depending on the economy that can be years in the making. Then once switched I found my new employer was no better than my previous one. So again I'm stuck until the next opportunity opens up and that again could be years. Depends on a whole list of things actually. Can I sell my house to move? Do I have elderly parents that need me looking in on them? Can I even move and if not how many job choices can I reasonably expect to find. I live in Maine even in the best of economic times Maine is in a recession now it's a depression. This current nation and or world wide recession has made job finding more than a little tricky. There are a lot of jobs out there that could be better for me but they don't provide health care and without that I can not live. The list goes on and on and on. I wish life were as simply as you say but that is not so and I think this girl may have found that to be true in her situation.

        Perhaps she was never told that a bikini on a beach was a no/no. Perhaps she was not told that her school was free to look up her facebook account? Perhaps she did not think that a joke picture taken with her holding a smoke and a bottle of booze would be considered a problem cause well people who know her know she does not do that. Maybe she grew up and changed as many of us do over time and as she changed her schools education was OK by her but the schools philosophies were not her's any longer? Maybe she just wanted to get the last few months over with and done and not waist her time and or parents monies by leaving before she got her degree? Her motivations and reasons could also be limitless in nature and complication. The thing is did the school specifically ban the bikini and can the school prove that the girl did in fact smoke and or drink I know for a fact that while Woody Harrilson played a killer in the movie Natural Born Killers he did not in fact kill anyone and his pictures had sound and action not a simple still picture of one holding a gun but actually using it.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • Minors do not choose what school their parents send them to.

      I grew up going to a private baptist school, contrary to what I wanted to do. >edit< sorry didn't read closely it is a college... but still 16 is still kind of young for the college to be completely her choice.

      Also this in the Philippines, different court system, different laws.
      Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
    • The question remains does being photographed with mean using

      Maybe it's considered funny by her family to have taken such a picture depicting a girl so NOT like the person she really is. As for the other girls as far as I can tell they were not photographed with these items and only had bikinis on at a BEACH PARTY! By most standards a bikini has been excepted as exceptable swim wear for some years. Finally while at school the school in question weather public or private has responsibilities and certain control of its students that control ends once the student is off school grounds. What's next if one or more of the girls works for the re-elect Obama champaign can the school bar them from graduation as well? Even if they never mention or act on their job while at school?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • Choice is defintely an interesting concept

      And highly related to how much choice you really have. If you have many employers to choose from and can quit at the drop of a hat (or even start your own business) then you're not going to mind your employer's rules very much because it they really annoy you, then you'll go elsewhere. Likewise I'm guessing that just about everybody that attends religious colleges in the US chooses to go there (and could have gone elsewhere), despite, or often even because of rules regulating personal conduct, even off campus. But if a particular institution is the "only game in town", then it's only natural that people will resent any restrictions imposed by it, because it's harder to get away from them (which is a large part of why we have antitrust laws).
      John L. Ries
    • The conflct

      I agree with you! In the Philippines, we are always sympathetic to the victim regardless if the action done is wrong and immoral. We are still living fully what we see in the movie. Kung sino ang inaapi, kahit mali, we sympathized.
      The conflict between parents and teachers and school authorities are : parents entrust their children in school for discipline, BUt when the authorities discipline the kids, They think it is wrong! BUT THEY EXPECT the school to raise their children well..
      jheny_prz
      • As a parent I would not expect a school to discipline

        my child in fact I would send my child to his/her school with a note stating clearly that discipline is my job as a parent and any school official foolish enough to discipline my child would face my wrath and that would involved serious physical harm to said official.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • I send my kids to private schools for education, not brainwashing

        @jheny_prz you said: [quote]In the Philippines, we are always sympathetic to the victim regardless if the action done [b]is wrong and immoral[/b][/quote]

        Separation of church and state is an important concept in philosophy and justice. Why should subjective religious theologies trump essential individual freedoms?

        If she passed all academic requirements, she's entitled to graduate. Some fascist zealots ideologies cannot be allowed to interfere with the future well-being of anybody, in a civilized and free world, preaching the right to 'academic freedom' of thought, speech and expression.

        Since bikinis are widely accepted as the norm in this World, why should any non-clergy student at any religious institutions around the world, be subjected to wearing a nun's costume, or stringent rules of behavior existent in convents?

        As a business proposition by the religious, evidenced by accepting money in return for 'education' they have no rights in meddling into the extra-curricular activities of any of their patrons. Unless expressly forbidden by prior existing explicit rules; before-hand, called 'rules of ethics' for attending such an organization.

        No it is not left up to the whims of self-appointed guardians of so called 'morality' while being petty bureaucrat's discretion.

        I say sue them, and teach them a lesson in humility. While the religious hierarchy will ultimately fire such zealots bureaucrats, for making them lose some of the almighty dollar$.

        BTW: I went to private Catholic schools and am sending my kids there, because I like, agree with and respect the philosophical values and quality educational curriculum provided at such institutions...

        [i]~~~~~~~~~~
        If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from m o r o n s?
        ~ Uncommon sense

        Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.
        ~ G.K. Chesterton

        The true barbarian is he who thinks everything barbarous but his own tastes and prejudices.
        ~ William Hazlitt

        A person of his own mind, but a man for others???
        {Jesuit Principle}

        When one person suffers from a delusion It is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion It is called Religion.
        ~ Robert M. Pirsig

        They, who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
        ~ Benjamin Franklin

        Man is an infant, with the toys of a child, and delusions of adulthood.
        ~ A. Cygni, Philosopher

        My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
        ~ Dalai Lama, Buddhist, Spiritual and Temporal Leader of the Tibetan People
        [/i]
        WinTard
  • Knowing nothing about Philippine law...

    ...this strikes me as the sort of case that effectively discourages schools from having any sort of enforceable rules at all (call it a "chilling effect"). This is, after all, a private, religious school we're discussing, so it really should have come as no surprise to anyone (least of all, the students involved) that the administration would take a dim view of the photos described, and would have, even if the girls had been wearing more substantial attire.
    John L. Ries
    • No school or business no matter it's owners leanings, ideology,

      or faith should ever have sway over a students personal views and or actions away from school grounds and or activities. Same for employers and employee's. It's and over reach to be sure.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
  • All points are valid

    LiquidLearner is right in saying they have a choice. If they want their children to be raised by prude stuck-ups, that's their problem. Truth is, I came from these private Catholic schools, and I saw that students from these schools are incompetent in properly interacting with the opposite sex. Lack of options in these schools breed homosexuality, which they view as immoral and I only find as impractical. How ironic, but I digress. Joining these schools mean you will abide by their outdated rules. Saying the 16 year old girl probably had no choice in the matter is irrelevant. Remember, she's under-aged and has to abide by her parents rules, as long as it does not trample her rights, which I don't see that her parents choice of school for her does.

    On the school's side, why the hell they look into the social accounts of their students is creepy to say the least, and bordering on pedophilia and/or predatory at worst. The student's rebellious behavior against their so-called morals is their failure in infusing said morals into the student.

    In the final analysis, both the parents and the school failed. For the parents, failure to choose a school that suits their family's lifestyle, and the school, their failure in molding student's mind in their "pious" ways. I would've just slapped a negative remark on her Certificate of Good Moral Character and let her attend the graduation. These schools need to understand that they do not have absolute control over the lives of their students, and parents should impart on their kids the simple truth on following accepted rules, take note, I say accepted, they do not necessarily mean practical and even morally correct.
    AyaMizumi
    • Nonsense

      " Lack of options in these schools breed homosexuality"
      Bull. Lack of available opposite sex partners in NO way affects sexual orientation. This has been shown time and again, in study after study. It is a bunch of homophobic nonsense.

      As for choice, if all schools have the same rules then there is no choice here. Without knowing particulars, no one, especially LiquidLearner, can make an intelligent, informed definitive comment (not that that has stopped him before).

      Besides which, what is irrelevant is this whole issue of choice. There are laws in most countries, and I suspect the Philippines is one of them, that make certain provisions in contracts illegal. It does not matter if both parties sign on, they can not be enforced. Period. If the nation has laws regarding such contracts that stipulate that neither party has the right to regulate certain behaviour outside the scope of the agreement, then it does not make a difference if either party had a "choice". This is not a debatable point, it is a strict matter of law.
      The same goes for employment contracts, and school regulations. A school could certainly have a "rule" that required all 16 year old girls to strip naked in front of the principal to be checked for drugs. You could NOT make the argument that the rule is fine because students are free to go elsewhere, and that rule COULD be challenged in court, as the school does NOT have the right to have regulations that violate overarching local, state, or federal law. Again, not a debatable point.
      .DeusExMachina.
  • School VS Students, Morality VS Rights

    Morality VS Rights! The problem with teenagers these days is the recognition of rights being absolute!
    To those who said, it is the school who had place the teenagers in a public shame. Think Again. When you just totally allow this kind of practices and behavior, it will create precedence. Have you given a thought, why there are so many foreigners interested with filipinas?
    The school authorities will have only one statement : " if you dont want our discipline leave our school and transfer to a school that allows you to do such thing.
    Aside from bikini thing, there are lots of things that these girls have done. I am sure that school authorities do not live in a prehistoric times. They are dynamic, but within the bounds of morality.
    Now, if you are parent and sent your kid to a catholic school, do you like to see her in an obsence pose and will it make a perfect graduation gift for parents. Think!
    jheny_prz
    • There is nothing inherently immoral about the bikini.

      Good Christian woman wear bikini's on the beach it is and has been an excepted form of swimwear for decades now. What things have these girls done. So far the only thing besides the wearing of bikini's is one girl was photographed holding a cigarette and a bottle of booze. Mind you that does not prove actual use and I doubt the school out laws the holding of items for a family member who took a quick jump in the water or something. My point is it is not PROOF of anything immoral. On the other hand is smoking and or drinking immoral anyway? I don't think technically it is. Finally this is something that did not occur during a school function nor on school property this is a PRIVATE issue between the girl and her parent the school has no say the only thing the school has a say in is the girls education and what she does while at school functions, and or while on school property nothing more.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • Rights always trump morals. Why?

      Well morals are subjective. I'll just bet your morals and mine don't match in the least little bit. However rights are universal and not subject to opinion.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn