In an effort to teach girls to practice “ladylike” behavior, a New Jersey Catholic high school has asked its female students to take a month-long no-cursing pledge. The boys at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington have not, though, been asked to do so.
In the words of local paper, the Bergen Record, “What the hell is up with that?”
Resource room teacher Lori Flynn is behind the “civility campaign” at the northern New Jersey school. “We want ladies to act like ladies,” she says. The principal, Brother Larry Lavallee, contends that the girls at his school have “the foulest language” although it’s actually the male gender who is more apt to talk a blue streak, says psychologist Timothy Jay, a professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and author of Why We Curse.
The no cursing (if you’re a female Queen of Peace student) campaign has been timed to coincide with Catholic Schools Week whose 2013 theme is “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards.” Teachers also say it meant to be a tie-in to Valentine’s Day based on the notion that women who curse are “unattractive.” The Bergen Record indeed quotes 16-year-old Queen of Peace Student Nicholas Recarte and baseball team pitcher as saying such, while noting that he “can’t help shouting obscenities from the mound after mishaps.”
Don’t expect him to get singled out for doing so, either. The staff at Queen of Peace High School seem to think that by having girls refrain from cursing “their improved manners would take hold and rub off on the boys.” Female Queen of Peace students are described as taking this pledge in homeroom:
“I do solemnly swear not to use profanities of any kind within the walls and properties of Queen of Peace High School. In other words, I swear not to swear. So help me God.”
Flynn tells ABC News that a number of students have told her they “love” the campaign, which is an attempt to “to go back to some old fashioned values.” She even claims that some of the boys are feeling “snubbed”: ”It was supposed to be a really sweet, innocent, special treat for the ladies specifically for the month of February kind of thing. And I guess it made the boys feel a little slighted.”
Noting that “we’re just starting here,” Flynn adds that, should students wish to continue the no-cursing campaign, the school will do so and let the boys in on it, too. The all-boys Seton Hall Preparatory School has, she says, contacted her about creating a civility code during Lent.
Is The No Cursing Campaign Only About Foul Language?
After swearing off swearing, students are given lollipops and a pin with a red line through a pair of pink lips. Principal Lavelee himself acknowledges that the pin looks like it’s tell the girls “no kissing” which (he admits) is “a little harder to enforce.”
All very well. But if you consider Flynn’s and Lavalee’s words, cleaning up (female) students’ foul language is just part of it: the real motivation behind the campaign seems to be a more general wish to instill “traditional values” about “romantic” relationships — that is (dare it be said?) ones that could involve sex.
(Which while not being, last time I checked, a curse word, is probably best not uttered at Queen of Peace.)
Psychologist Jay tells the Bergen Record programs to stop students from using profanity (whether implemented by students themselves or teachers or others) “NEVER work.”
Considering that the Catholic Church’s official policy is to forbid the use of contraception, and the reality that 82 percent of Catholics say birth control is morally acceptable, it’s fair to wonder if those who’ve sworn off swearing are only giving the usual lip service to a doctrine handed down from on high.
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