High school seniors in one Nebraska school district will have the option this year to pose with guns for their senior yearbook pictures.
The new policy in effect this week at Broken Bow High School requires each student to abide by the school’s dress code in their photograph. Each photo must also be “tasteful and appropriate.” Other than that, seniors can incorporate any props into their portraits that they want.
“When we do senior portraits, we ask our students to consider an activity that they’re interested in, that they’re passionate about,” photographer Brian Baer told ABC News. “Sometimes it’s dancing, sometimes it’s basketball, sometimes hunting is the activity they’re interested in.”
Baer said he takes student yearbook photos throughout Nebraska, including in Broken Bow, and has never heard of students not being allowed to pose with firearms.
“I’ve been in business for 20 years doing senior portraits, and this is the first time it’s been called to attention. And I think it was addressed because of some sensitivity of school shootings that are becoming more common across the country, unfortunately,” Baer told ABC.
Last year, a yearbook adviser inquired about the high school’s policy on weapons in senior photos, and Broken Bow Public Schools Superintendent Mark Sievering realized that none existed. He and the school board decided that, since hunting is a popular sport among students, weapons should be allowed in yearbook photos.
“We are a very rural community right in the center of Nebraska where hunting and other shooting sports are very popular,” Sievering told ABC.
When news of the policy revision got out, the district starting getting calls from concerned citizens across the country, who imagined “a fourth-grader coming into school and having their picture taken with a gun.”
Sievering assured them that yearbook photos for the small town’s senior class of 60 or 70 students are taken off campus.
“I’m confident that students across the country are already taking photos like this,” he said. “This is not a new thing.”
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