A school in America has come under fire for refusing to let girls say no when boys want to dance with them.
Lots of things that used to be considered romantic have, in recent years, been reappraised. Asking someone out numerous times or refusing to take no for an answer were once staples of rom coms, for example, but are now considered to be definitively not okay.
But it looks like that memo hasn’t reached certain quarters: in particular, to Kanesville Elementary School in West Haven, Utah. Because this high school had a rule at its Valentine’s Day dance – that girls can’t turn boys down if they ask them to dance.
Speaking to local radio station KTSU, parent Natalie Richards said she couldn’t believe the rule when she first heard about it.
“[She said] the teacher said she can’t,” Richards said. “She has to say yes. She has to accept. And I said ‘excuse me?’”
Teaching kids to value their bodies and their choices is so important. Saying “no” isn’t mean or impolite, it’s honest.— TheFinalGirl (@Hey_LVC) February 15, 2018
But when she asked the school principal about the rule, he said the school had “had the dance set up this way for a long time, and they’ve never had any concerns before”.
Someone from the school later confirmed the rule – but said that it was “meant to teach students how to be inclusive”.
“We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone ask you to dance,” said the school’s community relations specialist, Lane Findlay.
But Richards believes this “sends a bad message to girls that they have to say yes,” and “sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say no. Psychologically my daughter keeps coming to me and saying I can`t say ‘no’ to a boy,” she added. “That’s the message kids are getting.”
The rules may seem trivial – who cares about one school in Utah anyway? But they represent a wider problem – that women are taught that what men want is more important than what they want. When we reject men, we often end up feeling bad – and sometimes agree to things we don’t want, just to avoid feeling guilty.
So for that reason, this story is important – and highlights that we should always be teaching girls and women that they can say no.