On March 30, St. Theresa’s College High School in Cebu City, Philippines will be holding its graduation ceremony. But a 16-year-old student won't be allowed to attend or walk across a stage with her classmates to receive her diploma — because she posted a bikini-clad photo of herself on Facebook.
The Associated Press reports that the student posted a photo which showed her "wearing a bikini while holding a cigarette and a liquor bottle" on her Facebook page recently. This photo was reportedly "taken during a family outing," but that didn't matter to school officials who barred the girl from attending an upcoming graduation ceremony.
It's worth noting that while the girl won't be allowed to join the graduation ceremony on March 30, she will be allowed to graduate — as she has met academic requirements.
If her mother has her way, the student might get to participate in graduation rites after all. The Filipino site GMA News Online points out that the woman has acquired an attorney and filed a petition demanding that her daughter be permitted to participate in the graduation ceremony.
"Her lawyer said the Facebook account was 'private' and limited to friends so school officials," adds Cebu Daily News. The "obtained information ... was 'not for public consumption.'"
According to Cebu Daily News, the girl's photo was "cited for violating five provisions in the [St. Theresa’s College High School] Student Handbook" which include a rule against "posing and uploading pictures on the Internet that entail ample body exposure" and "engaging in immoral, indecent, obscene or lewd acts."
“I will have my own standards on whether or not it is lewd,” said a judge during a hearing for the petition, says Cebu Daily News. After that same hearing, the lawyer representing St. Theresa’s College High School clarified the the educational institution's justification for the graduation ban:
[St. Theresa’s College High School] is a Catholic school governed by the teachings of the Catholic Church. We have to see to it that values are formed. We are not happy with the penalty but we are forced to impose it because we have to form the values of children.