How hard is it for someone to comprehend that “no means no” in this day and age? It appears that there are still individuals out there who do not get the idea of consent.
A contentious rule prohibiting students from turning down requests for a dance from other students was implemented at a school in Utah. An eleven-year-old girl who was unable to reject the boy who had previously made her uncomfortable was a victim of this policy.
A school should support a child’s whole growth in addition to developing their skills. Parents entrust their children to a certain school because they believe in it, know it will look out for their safety, and know it will also educate them on how to make better judgments about society and other people. Rich Middle School in Laketown, Utah, however, appears to have a completely different perspective on it.
11-year-old Azlyn was eager to go to the Valentine’s Day dance that the school had planned. But her encounter at the festival startled and infuriated her mother, Alicia Hobson. Alicia posted about what happened on Facebook, and the school has since been under heavy fire for the claimed policy.
Hobson revealed, “She politely said, ‘No thank you.”
Azlyn attempted to decline the boy’s request to dance, but school principal Kip Motta intervened and coerced her into accepting. She was informed by the principal that it is against school policy in Laketown, Utah, to turn down a boy’s approach.
Hobson revealed, “He said something like, ‘No, no. You kids go out and dance. He basically shooed Azlyn and the boy off onto the dance floor.”
While Alicia understands the school’s concern, she is of the opinion that policies like these rob girls of their voice and further a misogynistic culture where girls aren’t allowed to say no, as the school believes that this policy will help students keep the pain of rejection at bay. To add to her worries, “This boy has been quoted as publicly saying something very disturbing of a sexual nature,“ she revealed.
“It was supposed to be the best day ever,” she said.
In her Facebook post, she revealed:
“A kid at school that makes my daughter uncomfortable asked her to dance at the school dance on Valentine’s Day. She tried to say no thank you, and the principal overheard and intervened and told her she’s not allowed to say no and that she has to dance with him,” Hobson wrote. “This boy has been quoted as publicly saying something very disturbing of a sexual nature. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. It doesn’t matter if rumors are terrible and should be dismissed. That’s irrelevant. The point is that this kid makes my daughter feel uncomfortable. She should not have to stand close to him with his hands on her if she doesn’t want to. She has the right to say no to anyone for any reason or no reason. Her body is her body, and if she doesn’t want to dance with someone, that’s her prerogative.”
However, Clinical psychologist Dr. Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, who practices in New York City, concurs with Hobson and thinks the existing approach creates a risky precedent.
“Policies like this one not only overlook, but completely fly in the face of, what we need to be teaching young children — of all gender identities — about the importance of consent. Essentially, it is saying that a child needs to say ‘yes’ no matter how they feel, as a blanket rule. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that such a message is very much in alignment with rape culture and, therefore, very dangerous if perpetuated,” she said.