At least one parent is upset after a Utah elementary school enacted a policy requiring that girls politely agree to dance with boys who might ask them during the school’s annual Valentine’s Day dance.
What’s the story?
KSTU-TV reported Thursday that Natalie Richard, the mother of a sixth-grader at Kanesville Elementary School in Ogden, Utah, was very upset that her daughter would not be allowed to say “no” to dancing with a boy in whom she wasn’t interested.
Richard told the station that when her daughter first came home and told her of the school’s dance policy, she was pretty sure the girl had misunderstood what the school was saying.
“Oh no, no honey,” Richard told the station of her reply. “You guys are misunderstanding again. That’s not how it is.”
Except it is how it is, and Richard found herself dumbstruck.
Richard told KSTU that she verified the information with her daughter’s teacher and went further, broaching the topic with Kanesville Elementary’s principal.
“[The principal] basically just said they’ve had this dance set up this way for a long time and they’ve never had any concern before,” Richard told KSTU of the principal’s response.
Why do they have this rule?
Lane Findlay, a Community Relations Specialist for Weber County schools, told KSTU that the rule is real and is in place to teach students to be more inclusive.
“Please be respectful, be polite,” Findlay explained to the station. “We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance.”
While some might believe that it only makes sense to avoid ostracizing the “weird kid” by shutting down his polite advances to dance, Richard doesn’t wholly subscribe to that particular school of thinking.
“I do see it from their perspective when it comes to that, but there are many other ways to teach children how to be accepting than with a social dance,” Richard said in response to Findlay’s explanation and added that she believes it takes away students’ voices.
“[The policy] sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say ‘yes,'” she explained, “[And] sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say ‘no.'”
Richard added, “Psychologically, my daughter keeps coming to me and saying I can’t say ‘no’ to a boy. That’s the message kids are getting.”
What else do we know about the dance and its policies?
The dance is not a compulsory school event; students can opt out of attending the festivities.
Prior to the dance, students are encouraged to fill out a card selecting five students with whom they’d like to dance.
According to KTSU, if the students feel uncomfortable with someone on a card, they are permitted to speak up in an attempt to remedy the situation.
“If there is an issue, if there’s students that are uncomfortable or have a problem with another student, I mean: that’s certainly something that can be addressed with that student and parents,” Findlay told the station.