A Utah school is facing major backlash after reportedly telling sixth-grade girls they must accept requests from boys to dance at the upcoming Valentine’s Day dance.
Natalie Richard was convinced her daughter had misunderstood Kanesville Elementary School’s rule when she came home saying that she could not refuse if a boy asked her to dance. However, after speaking with her daughter’s teacher, Richard realized the sixth-grade girls had in fact been told they couldn’t say “no.”
“The teacher said she can’t. She has to say yes. She has to accept, and I said, ‘Excuse me,'” Richard recalled of hearing the news, after which she took the issue up with the principal. “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.”
A spokesperson for Weber School District confirmed the rule’s existence but explained that it’s intended to teach the students to be inclusive.
“Please be respectful, be polite. We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance.” Lane Findlay said, adding that the students will fill out cards before the voluntary dance with the names of five people they want to dance with and can speak up if they feel uncomfortable with anyone who has requested to dance with them. “If there is an issue, if there’s students that are uncomfortable or have a problem with another student, I mean, that’s certainly something that can be addressed with that student and parents.”
Richard, however, believes rejection is a learning experience and a part of life. She argues there are other ways to educate the children on being tolerant and accepting that don’t include forcing girls into unwanted dances with boys.
“[The rule] sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say ‘yes’; [it] sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say ‘no,'” she said. “Psychologically, my daughter keeps coming to me and saying, ‘I can’t say “no” to a boy.’ That’s the message kids are getting.”