Utah Elementary School Tells Girls They Can’t Say No When Asked to Dance

In the midst of the #MeToo Movement, we’re having a lot of tough conversations about consent. But one Utah elementary school seems to think it can enforce a policy requiring girls to consent to invitations to dance.

Care2 users are calling for action with a petition demanding that the school stop sending mixed messages about consent at school dances. It’s providing a timely Valentine’s Day opening to discuss how we can best teach our children about interactions with others.

The story came to light when a young student told her mother that the school had told her that she had to say yes when boys asked her to dance. When she contacted the principal with concerns, she was informed that this was indeed school policy and an effort to make dances feel more “inclusive.”

She claims — and Care2 members agree — that this sends children a bad message. Even as society at large discusses the importance of allowing people to say no –  and respect that no — Kanesville Elementary is telling girls that they don’t have the right to decide who they dance with.

It might sound petty, but it’s important: If a girl can’t say no to a boy in this context, how is she supposed to say no in other situations? And when girls are told by the adults around them that they should do what boys want even if they feel uncomfortable, what are the implications?

Young women face pressure from an extremely early age to conform and go along with what the boys and men around them desire. This is part of the larger problem of rape culture – women don’t feel like they have control over their own bodies. Schools should be taking every opportunity to educate young women about their rights, rather than undermining them.

Messaging like this can contradict with parenting efforts in a dangerous way. Parents should teach their children of all genders that they have the right to refuse any unwanted contact, and that these wishes should be respected. If they aren’t, children should learn that it’s okay to shout, call for help or even defend themselves physically if someone doesn’t get the message.

Similarly, children should be taught to ask before touching someone, whether they want to give someone a hug or take a spin on the dance floor, and to honor the answer. Teaching respect and consent are both part of counteracting rape culture.

And this isn’t the first time the issue has arisen in recent months. During the 2017 holiday season, the Girl Scouts put out an educational advisory reminding girls and guardians that “she doesn’t owe anyone a hug.” It was timely — during family gatherings, people often pressure girls to “give so-and-so a hug,” even when they clearly don’t want to or feel uncomfortable. Girls deserve the right to turn down a hug whether they feel shy, don’t like physical contact or feel unsafe with a relative. It sparked a great deal of discussion – not all of it positive.

Take Action!

Join Care2 members in signing this petition asking Kanesville Elementary to rescind it’s “girls can’t say no” policy

Photo Credit: Alysa Bajenaru/Unsplash

69 comments

Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

ty

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Lesa D
Lesa D2 months ago

#16418 petition signed...

thank you s.e. ...

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues2 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues2 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues2 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues2 months ago

Ridiculous :(

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Amanda M
Amanda M3 months ago

Petition signed with a vengeance! It's sad how bass-ackwards so many places in this country are when it comes to girls'/women's rights! If a girl doesn't want to dance with a boy, then she should be allowed to say no. All dumbass rules like this do is teach girls that they are subservient to boys and have no say at all in their lives. Sorry, but that hogwash is hopelessly outdated, and one of the big reasons why I couldn't ever follow a monotheistic religion and don't find a patriarchal society much fun either!

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Tanya W
Tanya W3 months ago

How bloody stupid!!! There really is an imbalance in power when a girl cannot say no to dancing with who they don't want to be in a close encounter with!!! Idiotic!!!

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