An elementary school in Utah is being criticised for having a policy where it was compulsory for students to say “yes” if another student asked them to dance. The rule applied to Kanesville Elementary’s Valentine’s Day dance, with teachers telling the 11 and 12 year old children that if they were asked to dance by another pupil, they weren’t allowed to say no.
Natalie Richard, whose daughter attends Kanesville Elementary, complained to the school principal about the policy and reported that “He basically just said they’ve had this dance set up this way for a long time and they’ve never had any concern before.”
Lane Findlay, who is Community Relations Specialist for the school district the school Kanesville Elementary is part of, said that the rule is meant to encourage kindness. “We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance…The purpose behind this is to encourage more interaction between students and to promote an atmosphere of inclusion.”
While trying to promote inclusion is a good thing, there are better ways to do it than through a school dance
However, parents are understandably unhappy with the message this is sending out to their children, with one saying on a Facebook post about the issue “Sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say “yes”; sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say ‘no.’” But the policy isn’t even divided down gender lines; boys have to say yes if girls ask them to dance, too. It’s sending a message to all of these children that they have to say yes if someone asks them to do something intimate, and considering they’re about to enter into the years of raging hormones and sexual experimentation, that’s not a good thing.
While trying to promote inclusion is a good thing, there are better ways to do it than through a school dance. Also, if this policy is less about inclusion and more about enforced participation – some students may not want to dance at all, but these rules will mean they have to. True inclusion means respecting different views and ways of living equally, not making them change to fit what everyone else wants.
Thankfully, the school district listened to the feedback and said “We have advised our schools to eliminate any sort of language in the instructions surrounding these dances that would suggest a student must dance with another student. Although we still want to strongly encourage inclusion, kindness, and mutual respect, we feel this change will be of greater benefit to all students who choose to attend these dances.” I can’t help but agree. One of the most beneficial things this school could teach these students is that they have the right to say “no.”